Silence of the LAMB

Hannah McNeill

The Glasgow University Union has decided to suspend all single sex dinners whilst they conduct an independent review into the culture of the union. This independent review was announced after the Glasgow Ancients debate scandal caused the national press to question whether the behaviour of a few students at the debate highlighted an inbuilt culture of misogyny.

The most recent Last All Male Board (LAMB) dinner took place in November 2012, whilst another had been scheduled to take place later this academic year. The bi-annual dinner celebrates the last Board of Management before the first female was elected, and is one of many single sex dinners that take place. Others include the John Mac dinner (male only) and the Harwood Ladies dinner (female only).

These dinners were previously considered to be private events by the GUU Board, which could not mandate who was invited to such events once the private function is arranged. Any members of the Board of Management who attended these events did not attend in an official capacity, it was stressed after November’s LAMB dinner. However, in a statement released shortly after the GUU Ancients competition, Gavin Tulloch announced: “the Board has decided to suspend all single sex dinners with immediate effect.”

The GUU has also started consulting with various university societies in order to get suggestions into how they can foster an environment that is welcoming to all students. The statement continued: “We have also embarked on consultations with a range of cross-campus societies in conjunction with the Students’ Representative Council. We will take on board, with a view to implementing, any positive suggestions that emerge from those consultations to ensure that any unacceptable behaviour is eliminated.

“We will also review how our members and their guests are encouraged to draw unacceptable behaviour to the attention of the Board of Management, and we will make clear to our members, our users and our staff that they also have recourse to the University’s Senate Office in instances of unacceptable conduct. We will work closely with the University of Glasgow to foster an environment of inclusivity and mutual respect, where any actions incompatible with these values will not be tolerated.”

Such measures as suspending single sex dinners and retraining the Board of Management are hoped to regain the trust of the University community in the Union after many societies chose to disaffiliate from the GUU after the Ancients scandal.