Langwith Bar Reps condemned by students for ‘horrific’ rape question in Freshers’ week bar quiz

Questions at the Langwith Bar quiz, held in The Courtyard, caused much upset among students in attendance. Photo credit: Justyn Hardcastle

Questions at the Langwith Bar quiz, held in The Courtyard, caused much upset among students in attendance. Photo credit: Justyn Hardcastle

A number of students have expressed their concern over the inclusion of a “callous and insensitive” question in this week’s Langwith College bar quiz.

The quiz, which is organised by the Langwith Bar Reps and took place in The Courtyard, included a question relating to a recent news story of a Newcastle policeman, who has been accused of raping five women while on duty.

There were around 100 people in attendance, with those taking part in the quiz being asked to ‘guess’ what was said to the women before they were raped. Comedy awards were also given out for the most amusing answers.

Particular concern was raised over the fact that the majority of quiz participants were freshers who may be less aware of welfare support across campus. Indeed, a first-year student, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Nouse of her “shock” that such a “horrific” topic was “made into a joke, everyone just laughing about it and making really rude suggestions”.

She continued: “I understand that it wasn’t meant to offend but I personally felt really uncomfortable with everyone making a joke out of rape. It was just in really bad taste. It is an issue that really does affect a lot of women and the question reflected very poorly on the JCRC.”

Another second-year student, Simina Ghit, also stated her disgust: “I believe it is highly inappropriate to regard rape derisively, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, this is, rightfully so, a sensitive issue, and the people who organised the quiz should have been more thoughtful and considerate.”

She continued: “As for the people who attended and enjoyed the quiz, all I can say is that it’s very disappointing to know that there are still people who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, between fun and being offensive.”

“We fail to see how the emotional scarring and violence these women experienced is entertaining to anyone”
Janey Stephenson and Charlotte Philips
YUSU Women’s Officers

Connor Wilcock, Langwith College Chair, stated his regret over the issue, commenting: “I have spoken to the Bar Reps and they would like to offer a full and frank apology for the said comments.” He continued to say that it had not been their intention to “trivialise” the story in question.

Wilcock went on to say that “any comments at the bar quiz are intended to humour rather than offend, but I accept that in this instance, common sense and sensitivity were not correctly applied. A verbal apology will be made at the next quiz.

“But to reiterate to those who were not in attendance, they, and the Langwith JCRC, apologise for causing upset and offence. They have assured me that comments of this nature will not feature in the quiz in the future.”

Tom Bourne, a Langwith Bar Rep, also personally apologised for “overstepping the mark” and stated that they “wished to extend our apologies to anybody affected”.

After being made aware of the complaints, the issue was taken up with both Laura Borisovaite, YUSU Welfare Officer, and the Langwith Provost, who dealt with it accordingly.

Janey Stephenson and Charlotte Philips, YUSU Women’s Officers, were outraged that such a topic had been used in the quiz.

“We fail to see how the emotional scarring and violence these women have experienced is entertaining to anyone,” they stated, continuing: “Under no circumstances should rape be treated as a joke. This incident serves to reflect the cultural climate which continues to silence victims of rape and sexual assault.”

Borisovaite also stressed that “support is available from the YUSU Advice and Support Centre, the University’s Student Support Services, myself and Nightline to any and every student who has felt affected by this or other incidents like this.”


  1. What were these numpties thinking? I mean, who actually sat down and seriously thought this was funny and would go over well? In what realm of existence did they imagine that this was an acceptable way to behave?

    Total idiots.

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  2. 8 Nov ’10 at 8:31 am

    Jerome Higgins-Commowick

    Is free speech a right that you waive when you enter a campus bar? The issue is tired, and the fact hasn’t changed: free speech means learning to deal with being offended. Yes, they ought to apologise in light of the fact that they offended people (it’s just good manners). No, such comments should not be promised against or banned in future quizzes. Once you start down that road, it’s a slippery slope.

    Part of being a member of society is having an armoury of methods for dealing with hostile and offensive beliefs. People offended by the question should’ve said so at the time, or said so afterwards; they should have spoken up, as is their right. Saying nothing to the participants or the organisers, bottling up their outrage and taking it to the local newsletter instead, was childish and passive-aggressive.

    That’s the point of free speech, it gives you the means to counteract when offended. Not having the courage to exercise your right to free speech shouldn’t mean that you get to stop other people from exercising theirs.

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  3. 8 Nov ’10 at 2:21 pm

    He's not a policeman but...

    I wonder if James Parsey was in attendance…

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