Disciplinary action taken against cricket team over ‘casual rape’ tshirt

FOLLOWING complaints about a society t-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘casual rape’, the Students Union has reached a decision on disciplinary action against the Cricket (Mens) Club (AUMCC).

A disciplinary committee met with the AUMCC committee on Thursday (24th) at 4.30pm. The committee claimed that the tshirt had been printed by previous committee members. The disciplinary stated that the cricket club had not only breached their code of conduct, but by condoning the tshirt being worn on a social event which they had organised, they had brought both the club and the Students’ Union into disrepute.

A second investigation took place at 9am yesterday (25th), to which the cricket club were asked to bring a statement, the tshirt in question, and evidence that it was printed by previous committee members. The evidence was provided and the tshirt handed over, and the men’s cricket club gave the following statement:

“…We understand the severity of the situation and steps are being undertaken to ensure no further offence is caused, and nothing of this nature will happen again. Any reference to the term ‘rape’ in that manner is completely unacceptable and is not, nor will it be, condoned in the future.”

Despite this, the disciplinary committee stressed that the cricket club committee had not recognised their moral obligations, and that allowing the tshirt to be worn on a cricket club social had breached the ‘Zero Tolerance of Sexual Harassment in our Union’ policy. As a result of this, a disciplinary took place at 1pm yesterday(25th), to inform the cricket club committee members of the disciplinary committee’s decision.

It was ruled that:

1) AberSU will withdraw the men’s cricket club grant application, and no sports grant will be allocated to them for the academic year 2013/14.

2) The men’s cricket team will have no representation at this year’s indoor BUCS cricket tournament.

3) The incident over the tshirt will be reported to the AberSU’s Board of Trustees, who may take further action.

The cricket club were informed of their right to appeal the decision. They informed the disciplinary committee that they will accept decisions 1 and 3, but appeal decision 2.

The appeal was heard at 2pm yesterday (25th) by Jamie Barker (Marketing and Communications manager), who was the most senior manager available to allow the appeal to be heard without an unreasonable delay. The cricket team presented a written appeal, arguing that as the incident in question occurred at a social event, it should not have an impact on their chance to play cricket competitively.

However, Barker ruled that although he accepted the sincerity of the club’s apology and their honesty during the investigation, they had clearly violated their code of conduct, which requires them to follow the ‘Zero Tolerance of Sexual Harassment in our Union’ policy. A committee representative admitted at the meeting on Thursday (24th) that the committee allowed the tshirt to be worn. Furthermore, it was also said by a cricket team member that “people joked about it so we thought people are maybe seeing the [funny] side of it”. Barker suggested that this showed the cricket club committee was complacent about the code of conduct they had signed. He stated that

I also reject their implication that social activities of the club should not have any consequential links to their competitive activities. As such, it is my ruling that the second point of the disciplinary decision be upheld.”

Furthermore, Ffigar Sports, who printed the tshirt, have agreed to run all future printing of tshirts past the Students’ Union in advance. The Director of Ffigar Sports gave a statement confirming this, and added that he “can only apologise on behalf of Ffigar Sports” for any offence the incident may have caused.

Liv Prewett, Union Activities Officer, has stated that: “I would like to re-affirm that sexual harassment [or suggestion of] and unacceptable behaviour while representing a club or society is most definitely not tolerated by myself and AberSU as an organisation. All affiliated sports clubs and societies should understand the severity of the case in hand, thus, any further incidents of the kind will be dealt with in the same manner. I am deeply disappointed and have openly expressed my disgust.”