Ben Higgott, holding printouts of various laws

SU cock-up over “Dick of the Year” award

Students’ Union “Dick of the Year” award could lead to harassment, claims one student, who was nominated for the award this year

students union

The SU’s student activity award titled ‘Dick of the Year’ is causing a stir among Lincoln students.

We’re reaching the end of the teaching year for universities, as well as the end of the year for students’ union activities. As is the tradition, the SU at Lincoln is holding “activity awards” to “celebrate your achievements”.

While most of the awards are pretty much what you’d expect from this sort of ceremony – “best new society”, “sports personality of the year”, “event of the year”, etc – one award has caused some uproar – and it’s called “Dick of the Year”.

Lincoln Students' Union building as it appeared 26/02/2014

The University of Lincoln Students’ Union, final arbiter of the activities awards

When nominations for the awards were published online on the ninth of April, Benjamin Higgott was shocked to find his name on the list of potential dicks of the year.

He hadn’t been made aware of his nomination, nor of the publication of his name on the SU website. He told The Tab:

“I couldn’t think of anyone who would have nominated me for such an award.

“I thought it would be a good idea to contact the SU to find out who had nominated me and why they thought such an award was a good idea in the first place. I didn’t find it personally offensive, I just thought it seemed an inappropriate award for the SU to give out, especially in the light of all the other positive awards that are being offered.”

At first, the SU “just batted off” Ben’s complaints, so he pointed out how the award was against university policy, saying that to publish his name under a list of dicks of the year was both defamatory and broke measures designed to prevent bullying.

“If somebody was to Google my name, which a lot of employers do nowadays, they would have seen my name under a list of ‘Dicks of the Year’,” he warned.

Ben Higgott, holding printouts of various laws

Ben, holding copies of the policies he claims the SU has broken

Ben’s name has since been removed from the website, but he vows to continue his opposition to the award, as “it’s not just about me, it’s about the rights of everyone on that award,” he claimed. “The fact it is still an award is a problem, as far as I’m concerned,” he added.

Ben is not alone in his beliefs – others have commented on the webpage where the SU listed the nominations, alleging the award is inappropriate.

Yet, at the time of writing, none of these comments have made it through moderation to appear on the website.

Commenter Sammi Harrison recalled that she had posted: “‘Dick of the Year’, isn’t that a bit offensive?? Come on SU, I thought you were supposed to be professional!”

"0 comments" screenshot

No comments are visible to visitors on the page at lincolnsu.com

But, other Dick of the Year nominees were less bothered. Laura, who was nominated by her friends in the musical theatre society, told The Tab:

“I don’t feel bullied or threatened by the fact I’ve been nominated for Dick of the Year”, instead saying it was “more a reflection of the light-hearted and banter-filled atmosphere that we have successfully created within our society”.

“I can understand how the award may be used as an attack, but I think as long as that individual makes it clear to the SU that they wouldn’t be comfortable should they be nominated, and further action is taken to remove them, then I see no problem with it!” she added.

“It’s just a joke award,” remarked the admittedly less sympathetic fellow nominee Toby Holt. “Whoever has complained needs to grow some balls and get over it. It doesn’t encourage bullying at all.”

Another potential Dick of the Year had not been aware of his nomination until he was contacted by The Tab.He wished to remain anonymous, but said that he sees it “as a bit of light fun and should not really be taken offence from”, arguing that “with a reaction like [Mr Higgott’s], maybe they deserve to win the ‘Dick of the Year’ award.”

Lincoln SU

Are students really welcome in an SU that can arbitrarily decide to call its students “dicks”?

The Students’ Union did not respond to a request for interview before the SU closed for the Easter break. However, in an email to Ben, Lincoln SU Activities Co-ordinator, Tracey Revill, said:

“The award has always been a popular one and we have never received any complaints or concerns related with it until now. We do review and collate feedback after this event in order for us to discuss ideas and suggestions further, improve the services on offer, and address any issues that may have occurred during/after the process that subsequently requires actions.

“We will also look at including a declaration which highlights advertising and listings and also a notification prior to any details being published on the website, this gives the students up to date information beforehand and the option of refusing this information from view on the website.”

But it looks like the SU have actually failed to provide a full list of ‘Dick of the Year’ nominees.

“When nominations originally opened for the ‘Dick of the Year’ award, I saw it and thought: ‘who else would be appropriate for such a childish award than the people who created it?’ So I nominated the students’ union,” Ben admitted.

“It was interesting how the SU chose not to publish this on their ‘full list’, particularly if they’re in support of the award.”

And other nominations were also absent from the list.

Robin Edwards, who jokingly with a friend nominated himself as Societies Personality of the Year “because it’s about bloody time I got some recognition round here”, expressed disappointment at not appearing on the supposedly full list.

“They must not have taken it seriously,” he sighed.

Ben believes this raises questions about how the SU made their selections, especially as far as who was worthy to appear as “Dick of the Year”.

“What about the potential damage it could do to an individual who may have mental illness or perhaps a history that was not disclosed to the SU? On top of this how does the SU decide which individuals deserve to be called ‘Dick of the Year’?”

Have you been nominated for Dick of the Year without your knowledge? Get in touch: [email protected]