Last week I had the honour of dropping the ‘Take a Stand’ banner in the Hive.
#TakeAStand is a campaign run by BUCS, and I was really passionate about bringing it here to UEA.
Over the last few years, University sport has gained a negative reputation. A few high-profile incidents have been splashed across mainstream media, and University sport became negatively stigmatised.
BUCS undertook substantial research into the affect this had on sports teams. They found that a large number of students – particularly students who identify as LGBT+ - didn’t participate in sport because they were worried that they would become victims of hate speech, bullying, or even violence.
At UEA, we have a firm no-tolerance policy on prejudicial behaviour, including LGBTphobia, racism, sexism, anti-social behaviour and harassment – and I do think that people who choose to act in this way should be reprimanded.
But I don’t think that this is what sport is about. Not at all. And the actions of a few people shouldn’t warp how we think of University Sport.
Sport is about teamwork and community. It has the ability to unite students of all abilities, from all backgrounds, of all genders and orientations, of all races.
Every single captain of a sports club at UEA signed the #TakeAStand banner, which will hang in the Hive through Derby Day. By signing this, they have agreed to stand united by the following statements:
- Every student who wishes to take part in sport at any level and in any capacity should be able to do so without fear of discrimination on any grounds and feel safe in any environment.
- We will use clear disciplinary processes to ensure allegations of homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, xenophobia, racism, sexism, gender bias and all other forms of discrimination are dealt with fairly and transparently, to ensure that such negative behaviours are removed from the sporting environment (on and off the pitch) entirely.
- We pledge to maintain these standards across our sporting offer – from the lowest levels of grass-roots participation to the highest levels of elite competition – to ensure that non-inclusive behaviour is combatted wherever it is found and all those participating in University sport and physical activity are able to do so without fear of exclusion or derision.
- Every student should feel included and part of a team if they so wish. We will ensure that no sports club activity involves forced alcohol consumption, ‘initiation style’ behaviour or any derogatory activity.
- We agree to #TakeAStand against anti-social behaviour and discrimination in sport.
Now go win Derby Day 2017.