Image Credit: Annie
Members of Derwent College Rugby gatecrashed a gay and bisexual round of the College’s ‘Take Me Out’ event last Friday night.
Derwent College Manager, Andrew Kerrigan, released a statement on Instagram in response, in which he said that four members of the club took to the stage with “animated support” from their fellow teammates.
This had the “unfortunate consequence of publicly undermining the experience of gay and bisexual men in the College, and at worst, subjecting it to parody." This incident has led to several complaints, and Andrew said that he has “advised the reporting parties on their options.”
The College Manager condemned the actions of the club, stating “we uphold freedom of speech but we do not accept views which disrespect others. We do not tolerate hate speech or discrimination." Andrew called on the club to “issue a full and frank apology for their actions” and “begin the process of shifting the culture of the team”.
Online users accused Andrew of failing to act when the show was taking place and he responded with the following in an Instagram comment:
“I was present on Friday when the incident happened but I did not realise at the time exactly what was going on. Most importantly, I did not have a clear view of the stage as I was standing with the JCRC and the contestants to the left. If you were there at the venue you will recall that it was a fairly chaotic evening. The PA was not loud enough, and the stage presence even in previous rounds was packed with all kinds of people.
He added: “I should also clarify that the JCRC are an independent body from the College and it was their event. I was attending in a supportive capacity (mostly to support DBar and deal with emergent tech issues) but I think it is important for these events to be student-led as far as is reasonably possible. That is not to say that any blame should be placed upon the JCRC for ‘allowing’ this to happen. The responsibility lies with the rugby team.”
Derwent College Rugby initially released a statement of their own via social media, which they later retracted as it was “not sincere and poorly constructed”.
In their new statement, the team said that their involvement in this incident “absolutely undermines and appropriates [LGBTQ+] experiences”. Derwent College Rugby has promised that the perpetrators will be issuing apologies to all of the relevant individuals who were affected. As a club, they stated that they are “ensuring there are ways to transform our reputation and culture, making sure that any incidents like this never happen again”.
The JCRC who organised the event commented: "we do not stand for any form of discrimination or harassment and be assured this will not be taken lightly. This is a confidential ongoing investigation and so we cannot share any details, but please be assured the JCRC and the college are dealing with this issue very seriously and action will be taken. We as a JCRC value inclusivity and diversity, and hope that the LGBTQ+ community will feel welcome at all of our events in the future."