GUUdbye ya pricks

644306_10151530451736672_206350315_nAs a recent graduate of Glasgow Uni, I want to say some things about the scandal surrounding rampant misogyny at the Glasgow University Union. Firstly and most importantly I want to plug an incredibly important page that has popped up in response. Everyday Sexism at GUU is a facebook page where women have been able to freely and anonymously talk about their experiences of sexism, harrassment and assault at the Glasgow University Union. Please take the time to read it if you can – there’s surely lots more to come and it’s an appalling testament to just how unsafe women are in and around the GUU.

For those who don’t know, the misogyny that Glasgow Uni students have been dealing with for years from one of its unions, the Glasgow University Union, has hit national newspapers. Female debaters at a prestigious debate hosted at the GUU were subjected to intense sexist heckling (see the article for full details, the Glasgow University Guardian has also been keeping up to date with developments). After the debate an as yet officially unnamed former GUU President said in front of one of the women in the union’s Beer Bar “get that woman out of my union”. Since, the GUU Debates Convenor has called what happened to the women “funny”. Only 2 hecklers will be subject to a disciplinary process despite hundreds of witnesses who could easily identify more.

No Glasgow Uni student will be surprised to hear any of the things that are being reported, but there might be some who are surprised to find out how widespread experiences like their own are. The chance to talk about this openly is not to missed.

So let’s talk about some of the things that happened during my time at Glasgow Uni. Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments, or on any platform – let’s keep talking about this.

(Trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence)

Why don’t we start with the Glasgow University Union President who was forced to resign and banned from the union for sexually assaulting a female worker? Let’s not forget to mention that they subsequently sacked her and let him back in to the union. His name is Dom Boyle, and he specialises in online sexism too. Avoid him if you can.

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Sibbald

Or how about the charming Chris Sibbald, another former GUU President who unfortunately was not toppled from the seat of power despite making racist “jokes” about raping women (pictured below), not only making racist and false correlations between black men and rapists, but making light of real rapes that happened in the streets surrounding the university at the time. When he was President, an unidentified group from the GUU came up to the Hetherington anti-cuts occupation in the closed-down postgraduate union and stole our large banner, which Sibbald and others then hung out of the GUU turret (yes, they have a fucking turret) displaying. When some women from the occupation headed down to ask for it back, they were hit with infantile slurs and someone from the group Sibbald was leading threw an actual glass down at them – it was NOT accidental. (And let’s not forget the time members of the GUU board ran into the building naked and wouldn’t leave. And that time Glasgow Uni Student Representative Council President and GUU hack Stuart Ritchie had to resign after advocating that the university charge Rest of UK students more money, and saying he hoped the university would turn the gas on in the Hetherington building and firebomb us). I had a Philosophy class with Sibbald in first year and I remember him going off on a Zionist rant too, unfortunately it was too all over the place to remember exactly what was said – if I’d known he’d go on to be GUU president I’d have taken notes! I could say more, and while I’m generally of the opinion that you need to name and shame, and I think all of the things in this article need to be put out into the open, I’m not really up for being sued by his daddy. But suffice to say you want to avoid this guy too.

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Or there’s the time the GUU’s magazine advocated raping underage freshers, stating that “no means yes and yes means harder”.

Members of the GUU Board earned themselves lifetime bans from the Queen Margaret Union after they pissed all over the place during a packed Freshers party and smashed up the toilets.

And there’s more… In 2004 the GUU Board were exposed for using university funds to finance pay to view porn channels over a number of years. A group of GUU freshers helpers surrounded and shouted homophobic abuse at a gay couple who were kissing. The CCTV “went missing”. A freshers helper described the inclusion of an option for LGBT students at a GUU “Traffic Light Party” as “red’s for taken, amber’s for maybe, green’s for single and purple’s for trannies..”. The union held a “Masters and Slaves” fancy dress party. [EDIT: the linked article makes out like it was just two GUU members in inappropriate costumes, and some present GUU members are claiming this was the case. But this story has always been told on campus as a Masters and Slaves themed party, so I’ll be waiting until someone who’s NOT linked to the GUU and is therefore a more trustworthy source confirms this before retracting that statement. As if this is even important within the context of the horrors contained within this article, ye moany bastards]

How about when a group of the rugby boys got tanked up in the GUU Beer Bar and then came up to the Hetherington Occupation and violently physically assaulted a woman and a man? The University suspended the main offender, then quietly granted his appeal when they thought no one was looking. The police had a deliberate off-day despite arriving in time to catch the whole group of them – they let the main offender walk away while taking forever to bother even questioning the men who remained – I watched (and criticised) as they stood around openly joking with the perpetrators of a violent crime. Obviously they never charged anyone with a crime despite tens of witnesses and the university being able to identify every one of the group. Days before they had taken their job significantly more seriously when a couple of working class boys had thrown an ashtray at someone in the building and ran away – they were found and arrested within half an hour. They also took their job a lot more seriously when they evicted us from the building with great force – it sure felt serious anyway when I saw the helicopter circling and was suddenly barricaded in a building and dragged down the stairs. I think it probably felt pretty serious to the woman they concussed too. Don’t think for a second the university and the police aren’t in these guys (or their families) pockets, metaphorically or – who knows? – maybe even literally. They need to be stood up to on a large scale, because they have far reaching powers of intimidation on their side.

Look at this fucking castle

Or if this all hasn’t been enough for you, consider the annual dinner they have in celebration of the Last All Male Board before women were allowed membership of the union in 1980. Another annual dinner called the “139 Club” was finally banned in 2011 – this one celebrated the 139 men who voted against allowing women in. At these events there was ritualistic hitting of women with sticks (not even fucking joking) who entered the venue and women were banned from making eye contact with men.

This shite is frankly a snapshot. I fully believe more and worse went on that was silenced, just in my time at the uni alone. I’m sure there are hundreds of scandals from before and after my time I don’t even know about.

It should be noted (because I saw that the QMU president was getting pissed off at being conflated with these misogynists) that Glasgow University has two rival unions, and the Queen Margaret Union should not be confused with the GUU – the QMU is hardly perfect but it’s a generally welcoming and unreactionary student union with decent equality policies. The fact that there even still is two unions is a hallmark of Glasgow Uni’s embedded misogynist culture. Of course all universities have sexist and misogynist features, any institution has institutional problems. But there’s no reason other than the influence of misogynists why the GUU (who only reluctantly voted to allow women in 1980) even still exists in its own right – the unions should have been assimilated decades ago but the rich white manbabies of the GUU simply could never accept sharing a building, policies and funding with all those bitches, poofs, foreigns and commies the QMU lets be openly female, LGBT, international or left wing. And this is simply allowed by the university to continue – at what other university would you find a union system that exists specifically to keep a safe space for posh men to be misogynists alive? Almost to the person membership of the unions is divided based on social class and whether your politics are at least functionally if not theoretically semi-sound or not. The lucky few who make it out after misguidedly joining the GUU in first year can attest to that.

The GUU is and always has been an old boys club which, despite years of financial mismanagement and a neverending series of outcries at the unacceptable behaviour of its Board Members, continues to stay funded and supported by the university because a) some of the high heid yins at the uni used to be GUU members, b) the GUU Board have very rich daddies, and c)the uni know these chumps are the lawyers, doctors, managers and Glasgow University Principals of the future. We can’t stop all the wee cunts of today becoming the powerful cunts of tomorrow, but let’s stop THESE cunts in their tracks while we have the momentum.

COME AT ME.

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31 responses to “GUUdbye ya pricks

  1. Haven’t seen or heard a single discussion of the “heckling” where everyone didn’t know that Chris Sibbald was involved in the sexist abuse. He’s been protected from the consequences of his own actions for so long, he’s now become a complete liability even to the Tory apes of the GUU.

  2. I remember the “Filth” piece vividly. I had been raped a few weeks before in the vicinity of the uni, and was off uni sick due to what had happened. It was published in the first couple of days of me resuming my course. I couldn’t stop crying nor understand why they would joke about what happened, and encourage their members to rape us. I cannot believe this is still happening, and a cursory look online around tells me it is even worse ten years on. I applaud the students calling this demo, and please know you have my full support. This hatred of women, and other classes that is endemic of the GUU is a cancer which needs to be cured, and by cured, I mean destroyed.

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  4. Brilliant article. I, as a woman, always loved the look of the GUU because it’s a Harry Potter esque building with open fires, cosy bars and an impressive debates chamber. But I never felt comfortable there. I’m a QMU member and while the building isn’t as pretty there’s definitely a nicer atmosphere. The ideal union would combine both qualities, but unfortunately the GUU is a cesspit. I’m going to the rally today. I’ve had enough.

  5. Clarification needed on a couple of points – if this circulates more then any inaccuracy will be used to pick it all apart:

    The ‘Master and Slave’ incident appears to have been two sick individuals at a Halloween party, not the actual theme of the party. Is there anything to show otherwise?

    According a founding individual, the 139 Dinner was simply named after the dissident voters but was otherwise nothing to do with them – set up to run as a male alternative to an already running all-women dinner. This doesn’t excuse the humour but it is different to the LAMB dinner which, by all accounts, is as vile as you suggest.

    Those aside, I’d been hearing stories like this about the GUU for ages so it’s good to see them collected in one place – on their own they always seem like ‘bad apple’ incidents rather than a systematic failure to fix things.

  6. Hi Janet, the Masters and Slaves party was definitely the theme – the article quoted is misleading but I wanted to include it anyway as a reference (I think the purpose of that article is more to have a go at Charles Kennedy than to expose bad attitudes in the GUU). If anyone has any references to some of the other things (such as the homophobic abuse of a gay couple) – which definitely happened because I or other people were around the uni when they did and there were small outcries about each of them – but which I can’t find a link to anyone talking about using basic search terms, I’d be grateful.

    The 139 Club is definitely the worse dinner, the one that was banned, and is the one where female workers/visitors to the union were openly harmed and harassed. The LAMB dinner is inherently sexist, full of eejits, and shouldn’t be allowed to continue, but is not on the same scale as the Bullingdon Club style approach of the 139 Club. I don’t think you’re likely to be able to trust a founding member of it to provide a true account of what went on there.

    Thanks for the comments, and good luck with the IWD protest today.

  7. Great article. Admirable demonstration. The place just reeks of misogyny, chauvinism and prejudice. Only wish I could be there in person but I’m in Malta till the 14th. Full support.

  8. What’s intrisically sick about a ‘masters and slaves’ theme anyway? If indeed that’s what it was. In an otherwise worthwhile article, that’s a pretty fine way of alienating the surprisingly sizeable GU fetish community who’re amongst your most active folks on these anti-GUU matters.

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  10. Anonymous, thank you for your comment. It needs to be remembered that it’s not just a case of the unacceptability of the behaviour displayed by these GUU guys, it’s also about the real effect the behaviour and attitudes have on women on campus. And the women who’re put off from even going to Glasgow Uni because of it.

  11. Well said. I am a student at Glasgow University and had I not heard many of these stories about the GUU before, I would find it hard to believe such overt sexism still takes place and is largely ignored or even openly celebrated by a union- whose purpose ought to be to provide a safe place for all students. Thank you for your honesty.

  12. While I do not believe any of the actions mentioned in the article are justifiable in any way shape or form, i do believe that both unions are as bad as each other. I was a member of both during my time at Glasgow uni and was infact assaulted at the QMU because at that point in time I was ‘GUU scum’ . There are many wonderful and decent people in the GUU who do not support the actions of a few. It is those higher up in the uni management and senate who should make sure this is not allowed. Having attended and worked in same sex schools this misogyny is rife and reaches at a far younger age. However I also do remember at my time attending events at both unions when men were our slaves for the night. Pyjama parties where women could wear whatever but men must be topless, at the QMU being told to shut my fucking mouth as I was a yah and that I was not allowed in to an LGBT event with a friend because he looked like a ‘rugger’ and was just there to take the piss. We surely need to address the major issue of reverse racism!

    • I fully agree with this. Of course the behaviour of some of the GUU members has been atrocious in the recent past, but members of the QMU have been just as bad to myself and several friends. This issue is about a certain number of idiots who would behave like idiots no matter where they were, and should not be all about ‘those people from the GUU’.

      • The problem is the GUU has a culture which specifically encourages this and a disciplinary procedure which has failed to take any action against the majority of these offences. I can’t think of another student union where so many of these actions would have been allowed to take place and be known across campus without initiating disciplinaries and enforcing bans. Of course there is misogyny everywhere and the “LAD” culture that a lot of unis have a problem with is a driving force for it, but the GUU very clearly has an endemic culture of harassment and no recourse for offenders. The “few bad apples” theory is clearly false.

        Jen, I’ve approved your comment (unlike a few from men languishing in the pending approval folder – this is not a talking shop for wee pricks and no matter how much they whine about it they’ll never get a comment through unless it’s really, really funny, like so funny other people NEED to see how funny it is) but I can’t tell if you’re joking with the ‘reverse racism’ comment – there is no such thing as reverse racism.

  13. I worked as bar staff at the GUU for a few years (about 5 -6 years ago now) and I can say that I have heard some appalling stories and even witnessed some of the antics of these ‘manbabies’ as you so well describe them. The worst stories I’ve heard I cannot provide any evidence for so they should be taken off the record. One of the worst I heard came straight from the mouth of the victim, who also happened to be one of the highest ranking bar employees. She reported to have been standing outside the beer bar smoking a cigarette on her break and at the time the 139-ers were gathered for there annual sickfest. She felt something wet falling on her and looked up to see a couple of 139 members urinating on her from a window above. I presume this went unreported or was hushed by the board as most incidents are. Another girl, who at the time was a friend and also bar staff reported to have been terrified to serve at the 139-ers dinner as she had been subjected to verbal abuse and taunted as she served dinner to them at their table. She allegedly had a bowl of soup knocked over her by a member. She spoke frequently about her refusal to serve at the event ever again due to the way she was treated. These are just two of several stories I have come across but as I said I have no evidence so I suppose they are no more valuable than hearsay. I thought I would share them though as reading your article reminded me of all the disgusting things that are allowed to take place in that awful place.

  14. Hi Anon, thank you for sharing that story – that’s so awful. I think it’s incredibly valuable to talk about these things (and not play up to the ideas of some that we shouldn’t talk without ‘solid proof’ because that comes with the inherent (false) assumption that women are liars, and I don’t play that game). We have to create our own power where there are people working to take it away from us.

  15. I know people who are GUU members and they are great people, no doubt, but I’ve plain never felt welcome at the GUU. I was just a normal kid who did well and ended up at Glasgow and had no idea what an “old boys club” was, but I soon found out. I admit I’ve been kind of blind to the sexism that goes on at the GUU (I’ve never taken much interest in either union although cheap alcohol at the QM always appealed) and I’m just…really shocked.

    I think, ultimately, the GUU will always be an “old boys club”. All I can hope is that the sexism that seems to be a running theme at the GUU is addressed. It’s not acceptable. I’m tired of people saying, “but that’s just how it is” or, “it’s not sexist, it’s just lad culture, it’s a joke”. If there was reports of racism, homophobia or sectarianism, you bet it would be dealt with.
    I’m so pleased to see people coming forward, sharing their experiences and talking about this and I hope it’s the start of change. I think we owe it to the future students. This isn’t about attacking the GUU, it’s about attacking the behaviour and attitudes that are giving it (and Glasgow University) a bad name.

    • Argh silly phone, i meant sexism. Racism was entirely the wrong word to use granted. What I mean is that i dislike that in both unions it is okay to objectify people, men must be topless when that would never be allowed if it was done to woman. My friend cannot be gay into rugby and a member of the GUU according to the QMU. The fight should be for equality as opposed to making this a feminist issue or a them vs us. Having also ‘done time’ working in the Hive I can relate to men thinking it was perfectly okay to be all over me. However as I was ‘one of them’-a GUU member those men in particular got chucked out. The same happened to me in Jim’s bar and I was told to cheer up by the student in question. I can however inform you that I have experienced appalling sexism at St Andrews where I did my Masters and at Oxford Uni. Unfortunately it is only now women feel confident in standing up to sexism and I believe the GUU is only the tip of the iceberg.

  16. Everyone knows what these clowns are all about. At best yuppy arseholes, at worst dyed-in-the-wool bigots, most often a combination of the two. At least they make themselves easily identifiable (and thus avoidable) and seem to stick in one place. They’ve no problem flaunting their views because they know at the end of the day they can run off to muummy or daddy and get a nice well paid job in the family factory. Love to see that Sibbald cunt run his mouth anywhere outside of the GUU in Glasgow, he’d end up with a mouth full of teeth or a significantly wider smile.

    Bawbags til the end, but they’ll revel in that title, so short of criminal prosecution (and we all know how that ends up with rich kids), I don’t really see what can be done.

    Always thought anyone hanging around in a student union past the age of 18 or 19 is a bit of a boring weirdo anyway, Glasgow is full of cracking nightspots. At least the QMU mob are the harmless, nerdy kind of union members though. You’d hope the GUU lot will end up with some karmic justice at some point, but lets face it- they’ve had it easy up ’til this point, and they’ll always have it easy, society is geared towards rewarding the wealthy and giving these cunts continual leg ups. My advice would be to just smoke a joint and remind yourselves that you’ll always be better than these nobodies. Peace!

  17. This article made me so angry and yet it’s all so true. I wish that I’d done something about it when at Glasgow but I didn’t; and now from the outside it looks more disgusting than ever. We just can’t afford this image.image

  18. Without going into the picture of GUU as wholly and omnipresently misogynistic and corrupt (because while I do agree on your sentiment in favour of reform there as elsewhere, I’m a member who’s always felt welcomed; I want everyone to feel that way, and don’t subscribe to the view painted by some of the over-arching atmosphere at the union) I do want to say something re: the existence of two unions.

    I really don’t think there’s any substance in your argument that the two unions persist as separate entities due to misogyny, and don’t really see you building a case for it. Personally I feel the two separate unions offer different things to their members (and no, I don’t mean politically) to the benefit of everyone; nowhere else in the UK can students actually choose between two unions! In addition to that, resistance towards amalgamation is not limited to the GUU. In fact, I don’t think there’s any will for it at GUU, QMU, or for that part anywhere else. Whereas you personally seem to favour a merged student union, it’s not accurate to paint it out as a change prevented by GUU traditionalism; during my three years here, it’s been an absolute non-issue. I’ve never heard anything to indicate that it’s been more significant in the years preceding my matriculation here either. If you know something I don’t, do please share it. If not, let’s stick to the facts, for everyone’s benefit.

    • Hi Linus, thanks for your comment. I never said there was a demand for the unions to join (there very clearly isn’t and I understand why the QMU staff/Board would never want to – there’s no reason why normal students WOULD want to share funding, board room meetings, etc, with the dinosaurs on the GUU board). But IMO the reason they weren’t joined long ago is because of the unique demand at Glasgow Uni for a special snowflake union for reactionary, backwards forces who unfortunately have not changed from 1980 til now. It’s a very very unusual situation to have two unions and undeniably the sexism and classism of the people who make the decisions at the GUU is one of the forces that has kept them apart over the years

  19. I was attacked in the Hive and all I really remember was a flurry of punches and a barrage of homophobic abuse. I know some of those fannies went on to be on the board/were on the board. I just wish I could remember any of their names.

    And it’s not a case of “could have happened anywhere” – in fact it’s insulting to say this to the very people most aware of the fact that they are seen as “fair game” anywhere. But it’s more likely to happen in some places than others for a reason.

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  21. “false correlations between black men and rapists”

    As much as I find it silly how the GUU is shooting itself in the foot now that its “boys” culture is exposed, I do find it unfortunate for the ones criticising the GUU to still be descending to intellectual dishonesty whilst addressing racism and sexism. You don’t have to be racist to live in a reality where black men do commit more rapes than some other groups. What you do with that fact is a whole other issue, but denying facts does not constitute as fighting racism.

    I don’t understand the notion that reality can somehow be “racist” (racism is a form of judgement, not reality). As an example, one can also point out that white males are more likely to molest children, but I bet you wouldn’t find that racist at all, even though it is nearly identical to the statement “black men rape more”.

    • “In the U.S., where ninety-six percent of the reported perpetrators of rape are white, eighty percent of the men in prison for rape are black.”
      — Joseph Weinberg & Michael Biernbaum, Conversations of Consent: Sexual Intimacy without Sexual Assault

      That was the sound of you being served, you racist piece of shit.

      Don’t expect to get any more comments through on this blog again.

  22. Pointing Out – if you’re going to make claims of intellectual dishonesty then you really ought to back up your *own* claims with some sort of evidence. You could at least have googled. I’m sure some White Pride website out there will have a statistic for your purposes. Racist piece of shit sums it up pretty nicely.

  23. The GUU is as repugnant and hateful an institution today as it was when I started Glasgow University 20 years ago. During my first year on the SRC as LGBT rep, I asked them to carry the Pink Paper; they refused for two reasons: I was a member of the QM so not entitled to make such a request, and they considered the free Queer newspaper (carried by the SRC and QMU) obscene. After we staged a sit in, during which we were harassed, ridiculed, abused and threatened by board members, they agreed to carry one copy but only if they were permitted to black out any offensive text or images. I told them to get themselves to fuck. So, you see, nothing changes. So much white, middle class, heterosexual cis male privilege, so little time. The GUU should be dismantled, brick by brick.

  24. When I went to Glasgow Uni my uncle was surprised to find out they didn’t show porn films in the GUU on Thursday afternoons any more. So this article is just part of a long-running, endemic freakshow of sexist (and racist, homophobic and classist) behaviour at the GUU. Being white, straight, middle class, and naive, I was only dimly aware of it at the time. But to read that it still goes on – and is maybe even worse now – is sad.

    I played rugby but didn’t socialise with the rugby team. I wanted nothing to do with the rugger bugger thing. And you will find they only act as aggressive wanks in situations where they aren’t at risk of coming up against someone harder than they are. There is no courage or bravery there, just boorish delight at their physical and social powers.

    I wonder if it is worth contacting the SRU to support something like the zero tolerance campaign. Football has its problems of sectarian violence that are out in the open. Rugby has never addressed its issues with misogyny and disrespect of others.

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