Student club night renamed after feminist petition

A student night at St Andrews University has been renamed after complaints by feminists. Picture: Jane Barlow
A student night at St Andrews University has been renamed after complaints by feminists. Picture: Jane Barlow
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FEMINISTS have succeeded in getting a Friday night club night at a top university renamed because of its “sexual” connotations.

The Students’ Association at St Andrews University in Fife has changed the name of the weekly event in the university Union - P.U.L.L. -back to its previous name of “The Bop”.

The name “P.U.L.L.” had been introduced at the start of term earlier this month, after extensive renovation of the Union premises, and was apparently an attempt to “pull in” more people.

But a petition, launched only on Sunday, attracted nearly 500 signatures in little more than 24 hours, claiming that the name “P.U.L.L.”, which officially stood for Postgraduates and Undergraduates Loving Life, was “inappropriate and not inclusive towards all students” due to the sexual connotations of the word.

Student Sigrid Jorgensen, who started the petition, said: “Friday nights in the Union are supposed to make everyone feel welcome but due to the re-naming of the nights many people have felt uncomfortable attending.

“The name ‘P.U.L.L.’ has a sexual nature that makes many students feel pressured or uncomfortable and excluded from their Union events.

“The Association LGBT Officer, Feminist Society Coordinator, and the Wellbeing Officer have received multiple complaints from many of students.”

One of the 436 signatories, Alice Lecointe, Students’ Representative Council member for gender equality at St Andrews said that she, the university itself, and the Student’s Association, had been “working hard” on implementing a new sexual misconduct policy and organising an initiative to ensure all sexual conduct was consensual.

Ms Leconite said: “The name P.U.L.L has not only raised much concern within the student body, it also totally undermines and contradicts these crucial efforts.”

Among other signatories, Erika Naegeli, said she had added her name because the idea of sexual conquest as a reason to go out was “dangerous and objectifying to both women and men”.

Former student Carla McGaharan, currently an admissions representative at the University, said the name suggested that the club night at the union was only for those who wished to engage in “casual sex”.

She said: “As a student I often found myself fighting a perceived elitist and exclusive reputation, a reputation that most St Andreans will agree is not accurate... ‘Pull’ is problematic because of the expectations it places upon the people attending the event.

“Such a title could lead to assumptions of sexual entitlement, and people becoming assaulted, raped and harmed as a result.

“I deal with prospective parents and students on a daily basis in my job role. I boast about St Andrews as a wonderful place to study; a top academic centre in a safe and beautiful town. I would be embarrassed to tell them about this particularly ill-named club night.”

Less than 24 hours after the launch of the petition, the Students’ Association agreed to its demands and the events name was changed back to The Bop.

Chris MacRae, director of events and services at the St Andrews University Union, said he was “pleased to see enthusiasm from our students to fight for something they believe in”.

He said: “We don’t want people being uncomfortable in our club. Please let the sabbatical team know if you have any concerns about any of our operations.”

But some students questioned how on earth the new name was sanctioned in the first place.

Final year Architectural History student Jack Carr commented: “The very fact a name as inappropriately sexualised as ‘P.U.L.L.’ made it past the planning stages during the summer is worrying, especially if our elected sabbatical officers had any input or ability to veto. Why this was not addressed at an earlier stage is a question that needs to be answered.”

Mr Carr said that following the extensive redevelopment of the Union building that has just been completed, “We should be striving to attract students through the doors, not put them off with sexist advertising and a name that a significant number will find intimidating and crass”.

He added: “It undermines the positive work our Union does for the benefit of all our students on a daily basis, and ought to be seen as an embarrassment.”