Students’ Union scoops national award tackling ‘lad culture’ in sport

The University of Portsmouth Students’ Union, an independent charity representing students at the institution, has scooped the prestigious award for Student Opportunities last night in the National Union of Students (NUS) Awards at the Birmingham NEC.

The award recognises the work of staff, officers and students in tackling a perception of ‘lad culture’ in sport at the University. Recognised nationwide by the NUS as an issue for Universities to tackle, ‘Lad Culture’ is a collective term for a perceived pack mentality that resides in in activities such as sport, and has been linked in the past to heavy alcohol consumption, and sexist, misogynist and homophobic actions.
SU award

An 18 month campaign by hundreds of students at the Students’ Union has led to a significant change in the culture of sport at the University with a focus on social inclusion without alcohol. Championed in 2015 by Ben Conway, the chair of the student-led committee known as the Athletic Union, and as part of the Students’ Union sports development strategy, the campaign focused on rewarding good practices to drive a cultural change.

Conway, 23 from Essex, who was subsequently elected to the position of Vice President of Sport at the Students’ Union said: “I’m thrilled to be able to leave this legacy for University of Portsmouth students.”

Recent analysis from the Students’ Union has shown that students involved in non-curricular activities such as sports clubs increases their likelihood of graduating with a higher standard of qualification by nearly 10 per cent. It is believed, in part, that this is due to the health and social benefits these activities bring as part of the wider student experience.

The campaign was also supported by the University Chancellor, Sandi Toksvig, who launched an award that celebrates student groups who drive inclusivity and diversity through their activities.

At the national awards event, Shakira Martin, the National Union of Students President, took to the stage and said “We were impressed by Portsmouth’s approach to tackling lad culture in Sport, the result is a sustainable change to how sports clubs become more inclusive.”

Looking to the future, and continuing the cultural change, Marcus Campopiano, 22 from Sussex, and the now Vice President for Sport said: “It’s my intention to continue to drive a high performing and inclusive sporting environment at Portsmouth University so that whatever our students’ interests in sport, whether it’s to compete or to be healthy, there is a place for everyone.”

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