Boys to Lads? Nus say Unay the problem

As the media hype over ‘lad culture’ reaches fever pitch, The Tab looks into a recent report from the NUS on this new culture on campus.

This March, the National Union of Students published a report on the ‘Lad Culture’ that is ‘plaguing’ universities across the country. The Tab looked into the report to see what exactly the NUS had managed to uncover…

You have to be wary of any piece of research titled ‘That’s What She Said’. And if someone then tells you that the research following the title is on the ‘Lad Culture’ across British Universities, you have to question whether the authors have ever spent any time in the company of ‘lads’. Or any normal students for that matter. I don’t think I’ve heard ‘that’s what she said’ used for at least a couple of years.

An odd title…

You then ask the question, ‘Who are the mugs who are paying for all this!?’ A quick look at your student card brings it home: me.

Nonetheless, ‘lad culture’ has been receiving a lot of attention recently, with stories of ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’ behaviour all over the press. And, hang on, I’ve just seen that the NUS are planning a nationwide ‘summit of stakeholders’ on this very topic? Must be serious stuff.

Modern lad culture in action

So, despite all preconceptions, maybe this is student’s money well spent after all.

Alas, it’s not.

One thing you can’t forget whilst reading this report and its recommendations are that it is written by ‘those NUS types’. We all know the ones, the bitter kind who still blame all of society’s ills on the birth of Maggie Thatcher. And that’s one problem that dominates this whole report: the bitterness runs through it and never leaves you, like that 70% cocoa Easter Egg your grandmother gave you in good faith.

Students on the march

As easy as it is to do some NUS bashing, it really is disappointing that they have missed the opportunity to say something worthwhile about ‘lad culture’. It’s something that a number of students have strong views on. So it’s a shame that the authors chose to hijack what could have been an interesting bit of research with cheap shots at the Coalition and Baroness Thatcher. The report is more of a political attack than a responsible piece of research.

Some of the reasons given for boys turning into ‘lads’ at university by the NUS were:

  • The ‘dwindling social safety net’, leading to more competition for jobs which OF COURSE leads to more masculinity on campus.
  • Students feeling ‘dismissed and unsupported’ as ‘many universities are outsourcing services such as security and student support.’ In other words, ‘we’re still stuck on Thatcher.’
  • The government, by cutting budgets for arts and humanities subjects, is doing so purely to attack women, as women are more likely to study English than Maths.
  • ‘Laddism’ is an attempt to ‘reclaim territory in the context of the recession’. Now there’s reading too far into something and then there’s this…

And what is this report based on? The answers of just 40 students, all female. Even more worrying is that only 5 of these interviews were one-on-one, face to face. Hardly the solid foundation on which to write an 84 page report.

And all this comes at a time when the NUS are already under close scrutiny. Last December, an overwhelming 74% of students at Southampton University voted ‘NO’ to becoming affiliated with the NUS, staying as one of 6 British universities outside of NUS control.

A pretty damning verdict

Many students are now starting to ask, besides my free McFlurry at Mcdonalds, what exactly am I getting from the NUS? And reports like these certainly don’t help to give any answers.