Manchester Students’ Union votes to keep jazz hands at SU Senate events

53 per cent of students voted to keep it


The University of Manchester Students’ Union has voted tonight to continue encouraging BSL clapping or “jazz hands” at SU events. 47 per cent voted in favour of revoking the clapping ban, while a 53 per cent majority voted to retain BSL clapping at SU Senate events.

The policy, initially suggested by Liberation and Access Officer Sara Khan and passed in September, encouraged the use of BSL clapping, or “jazz hands” in place of audible clapping to improve accessibility for autistic and deaf students.

Image may contain: Seminar, Speech, Lecture, Sitting, Classroom, School, Furniture, Chair, Audience, Crowd, Room, Indoors, Person, Human

James Pratt’s proposal noted that: “A ban on clapping may be argued to be inclusive for those with hearing difficulties, but subsequently excludes blind people from participating in the same way.

“Furthermore, due to clapping being an effective and tradition means through which to express approval, many are likely to find this preferable to do so”, also stating the Union believes “no ban should be implemented” until a compromise can be found that “reconciles the interest of all students.”

However, the SU senate meeting resolved that BSL clapping would remain as an alternative to audible clapping.

Image may contain: Interior Design, Seminar, Classroom, School, Indoors, Room, Glasses, Accessories, Accessory, Speech, Lecture, Crowd, Audience, Person, Human

The inauguration of the policy was subject to a lot of misrepresentation and backlash, and divided students’ opinions, many believing that clapping had been banned in the SU outright. Senate Chair Adam Rogers addressed the media directly prior to tonight’s vote, requesting publications to be “very careful with the language used”, and to “use language from the agenda”.

When setting out the rules for conduct during the meeting the Senate chair explained that whilst those attended are encouraged not to clap, they will not be “dragged out by security” for doing so. However, while many members of the audience honoured the BSL clapping policy, some could still be heard to be audibly clapping.