Three members of Leeds University Union’s Rugby Union Club have been handed a one week ban from matches and social events for ‘inappropriate’ behaviour on social media, with one of these members found to be responsible for publishing tweets of an offensive nature on the club’s official Twitter account.
Tweets including slurs towards women, the disabled, and the LGBT community, sent from LURUFC’s Twitter account were brought to the attention of Leeds University Union staff on 27 January, with staff meeting a member of the society’s committee over a week later on 4 February.
As an outcome of this meeting LURUFC were told to launch an internal investigation into the matter.
Speaking to The Gryphon at the time a spokesperson for LURUFC said, “An issue with our Twitter account was brought to our attention; immediately we looked into the issue and deleted all the tweets that we realised were inappropriate. We are conducting an internal investigation to find out who was responsible for sending the tweets. We are committed to making our twitter as professional as possible and are working to ensure that no issues arise int he future.”
Hours after making this statement, the same spokesperson posted a message to LURUFC’s closed member’s Facebook group informing members that despite informing The Gryphon that an internal investigation would take place and an official punishment handed out by the society’s internal disciplinary board, they would consider not putting this into practice.
Having obtained this information through an email sent to The Gryphon from an anonymous member of the Facebook group, the newspaper passed it on to Union staff, while also making LURUFC aware of the situation.
A committee member for LURUFC then informed The Gryphon that as well as punishing those responsible for the Facebook post, the member responsible for the initial offensive tweets had also come forward.
All three have been handed a one week ban both from playing matches and attending social events, and are also are expected to write a letter of apology to the LURUFC committee.
The committee member told The Gryphon, “An issue with our Twitter account was recently brought to our attention; immediately we looked into the issue and deleted all the tweets that we realised were inappropriate’
“We conducted an internal investigation in line with our Disciplinary Procedures 2015/2016 to find out who was responsible for sending the tweets and how the account came to be mismanaged. During the investigation a further social media incident arose, which subsequently was included in our investigation”
“The Club has found that three individuals were involved and have now all been given various punishments for their misconduct. The Union is aware of such events and continue to give guidance and help to the Club. All three members understand how their behaviour was unacceptable and not in keeping with the positive and inclusive culture we wish the Club to be known for”
“The Club is committed to ensure its twitter and other media outlets are as professional as possible. On top of certain actions already taken by the Club we will be working further alongside the Union to gain the appropriate training and guidance so that these mistakes do not happen in the future.”
The Gryphon asked Leeds University Union, who last year signed up to the National Union of Students’ Lad Culture Pilot Scheme, what action had been taken on the matter, and whether the original tweets infringed upon their Equality & Diversity Policy.
An LUU Spokesperson responded, “As a result of allegations of homophobic comments via the club’s Twitter feed, a member of the club’s committee was spoken to by Union Management and asked to remove any offensive tweets from their feed. The Union has not yet received any official complaints about the club’s feed but will continue to work closely with the committee to ensure that their communications remain appropriate. Any internal disciplinary procedures that are undertaken by the club is at their discretion.
If any student is concerned about the behaviour of any club or society, we urge them to speak to the Union’s Activities Team.”