What is Lad Culture?
NUS defines lad culture as a group or ‘pack’ mentality residing in activities such as sport, heavy alcohol consumption and ‘banter’ which is often sexist, misogynistic, racist or homophobic. It is also thought to be a sexualized culture which involves the objectification of women and rape-supportive attitudes, and occasionally spilling over into sexual harassment and violence.
A culture is a set of behaviours, attitudes and practices that are normalised by a group of people. Though someone might not personally identify as a stereotypical "lad", there are many ways that people can knowingly or unknowingly be complicit in sustaining lad culture. For example, by:
- Ignoring lad culture - Dismissing lad culture as a legitimate issue that exists on your campus feeds into the gas-lighting of people who have experienced the negative effects of lad culture. It also benefits those actively participating in it.
- Not challenging lad culture - being aware of the behaviour but not actively making any effort to challenge it gives the impression that this behaviour is acceptable.
- Socially facilitating it - integrating laddish activities as part of the student experience feeds into peer pressure and the normalisation of that behaviour.
- Structurally facilitating it - not having accessible and relevant policy and procedures to support victims or hold perpetrators to account, structurally sustains the presence of this behaviour on campus.
What is the Lad Culture Strategy?
We believe universities need to take a strategic approach to tackle Lad Culture. While students and staff need to take collective responsibility in becoming inclusive and supportive communities of active bystanders in order to influence a positive societal ripple effect by:
- Acknowledging lad culture - educate students and staff about the impact of lad culture and the importance of equality, diversity and sexual consent.
- Challenge lad culture - train students and staff on how to become active by-standers so that everyone is equipped with the skills and confidence and has the support to tackle lad culture as and when it happens.
- Create Inclusive social spaces - make sure you are promoting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything you create for students to get involved in.
- Create Supportive structures - Promote accessible reporting methods and Care pathways
In July 2015, we produced The Lad Culture Audit report, NUS’ most comprehensive analysis of lad culture policy and practice undertaken to date. From this work we were able to create a list of practical recommendations. In order to act on the findings of the audit, nine university students’ unions have volunteered to take part in the Lad Culture Pilot Scheme.
We worked with the Pilot Unions to build their own local Lad Culture Strategies and share best practice with other unions. Together we've learnt a great deal and have been able to develop resources for the rest of the student movement to use.