Two Cayley Hall committee candidates have had their campaigning fancy dress described as “very poor taste” by Loughborough University, while another is said to have breached the University’s Equality and Diversity Policy.
Jak Cooper, who ran to be Cayley social secretary in November 2012, was challenged to dress up as the now disgraced television celebrity Jimmy Saville.
A candidate standing in the current Cayley Hall hustings, also standing for social secretary, Andrew Bargh, has recently been campaigning dressed as Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic sprinter facing murder charges in South Africa.
In addition, HGM candidate, Piers Currell, has been pictured changing the colour of his skin using black face paint.
Jak Cooper went on to lose his campaign to become Cayley Hall social secretary in November.
“I can see how it may be in poor taste yet the Jimmy scandal reflects no representation of what my character is like, nor that of my hall,” he told The Epinal.
A spokesperson for the University told The Epinal:
“The wearing of fancy dress is part of student life. However, we would consider dressing, as alleged, in costumes that could cause offence to be in very poor taste and would strongly discourage students from doing so.”
Andrew Bargh declined to comment. He tweeted from his personal twitter account, “already got some people hating on this outfit #apologies.”
Ben Samuels, the Cayley Hall Chair, told The Epinal committee candidates were not forced to wear these “poor taste” outfits.
“It’s a matter of opinion if you find it inappropriate. Hustings candidates are not ‘forced’ into doing anything. The fancy dress is included in the challenges set by the previous committee member. As I said, it’s up to the candidates whether or not they participate.”
Loughborough Students Union President Ellie Read stopped short of condemning the actions of the candidates in question and stated in relation to Hall hustings:
“Hall hustings are run by each individual hall and they set their own standards in the running of all their events. We support and advise halls where appropriate and when requested for the events that they run. All behaviour of students is regulated by university guidelines and these can be found online in the student handbook.
“Any behaviours or actions that cause upset or offence is something the Union wouldn’t condone and specifically the issue of fancy dress in the union is something we’re looking into and is an on-going discussion that involved a detailed presentation to union council by the executive.
“The union always encourages students to think about how their actions and behaviours might cause offense or upset to others.”
Outgoing HSF President, Tom Allright, met with Samuels to discuss the matter.
“This is an issue that HSF has not taken lightly. We have moved swiftly within our capacity to resolve the problem. HSF has spoken with the Hall chair of Cayley about the issue and highlighted the significance and sensitivity of the problem.
“More importantly, the negative effects on the hall and students who have been insulted in the wider campus are HSF’s primary concern.
“Ultimately, HSF has no power over Halls, the outcome ultimately rests with the university. HSF must look into the interest of students and how we can make sure this is an issue which is treated properly.”
Since the cases of Cooper and Bargh came to light, it has been established that a further committee candidate in Cayley was ‘blacking-up’ using face paint. Piers Currell, running for HGM Chair, was pictured wearing the fancy dress by a Label Magazine photographer in the Union.
Currell was also unavailable for comment, but Loughborough University told The Epinal:
“Every member of the University community is obliged to ensure that their behaviour and actions do not discriminate against others, in accordance with the University’s Equality and Diversity Policy.
“Dressing up in this manner is in contravention of this policy. The University takes any such breach seriously and may consider taking disciplinary action against those involved.”