University of Manchester Students’ Union bans clapping

Rikama Education 3rd October 2018 News

A student union has ditched clapping, whooping and cheering in favour of “jazz hands”.

Reps at the University of Manchester voted to replace noisy appreciation with the British Sign Language (BSL) equivalent – a wave of both hands.

Union officer Sara Khan said traditional clapping can cause issues for students with autism, sensory issues or deafness.

But the move was criticised by some who accused students of being “pampered”.

Under the new measures, BSL clapping will be used at student events such as debates, panels and talks.

Student groups and societies will also be encouraged to move away from audible clapping.

‘Respectful environment’

Ms Khan, the union’s liberation and access officer, who proposed the motion at a recent meeting said clapping can “discourage” some from attending democratic events.

So-called “jazz hands”, she said, encouraged an “environment of respect”.

“I think a lot of the time, even in Parliamentary debates, I’ve seen that clapping, whooping, talking over each other, loud noises, encourages an atmosphere that is not as respectful as it could be,” she said.

Media captionThe students’ union say clapping affects people with certain health issues

Ms Khan said the union was looking for more ways to make its events more inclusive.

News of the measure was met with criticism in some quarters, with broadcasters Piers Morgan and Jeremy Vine among those weighing in.

Morgan said it was a sign of Britain “losing its mind”, while Vine posted a picture of soldiers in the trenches during WW1, suggesting they had managed to “ignore the difficulties caused by sudden noises 100 years ago”.

The National Union of Students, which introduced BSL clapping at its events in 2015, said individual unions acknowledge the needs of all their students and respond to their needs.

“We should all aspire to improve our public spaces so that all members of society feel comfortable and able to contribute fully.”