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Oxford University Students' Union Votes To Introduce British Sign Language Clapping At Council Events

Oxford University Students' Union Votes To Introduce British Sign Language Clapping At Council Events

The University of Oxford Students Union has voted to introduce silent clapping at student council events.

Vice President Welfare and Equal Opportunity officer Róisín McCallion and Ebie Edwards Cole, Chair for Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign, backed the motion hoping it would make the university more inclusive.

The proposal was successfully passed and will see the introduction of British Sign Language (BSL) clapping - which involves people waving their hands.

The motion was passed at last week's - Wednesday 16 October - council meeting.

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According to the university, people attending their democratic events will be asked to use BSL to 'reduce any distress loud noises would cause for people'. If successful, it may be rolled out to further events.

Speaking to LADbible about the proposal, Róisín said it's a way of promoting access to students who are 'underrepresented in political environments'.

The University of Oxford has voted to introduced BSL clapping at student council events. Credit: PA
The University of Oxford has voted to introduced BSL clapping at student council events. Credit: PA

She said: "The policy was proposed in order to encourage the use of British Sign Language (BSL) clapping during our democratic events to make those events more accessible and inclusive for all, including people who suffer from anxiety.

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"Inclusivity is one of the Students' Union's founding principles. We recognise that certain groups are underrepresented in political environments and we are working to address that. This policy is one way of doing so inside Oxford SU."

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Last year, reports circulated that the University of Manchester had banned audible clapping, however, the union later came out and stated that this wasn't the case.

Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for the union said: "Given the enormous amount of media attention on a motion passed at our Senate, and a number of inaccuracies in media reports on the matter, the University of Manchester Students' Union feels it necessary to clarify the scope and intentions of the policy.

It's hoped the move will encourage more people to get involved with politics at the university. Credit: PA
It's hoped the move will encourage more people to get involved with politics at the university. Credit: PA
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"The policy was proposed in order to encourage the use of British Sign Language (BSL) clapping during our democratic events to make those events more accessible and inclusive for all. We are not banning audible clapping - we understand that some people may be more comfortable to continue using it."

At the time, rumours of the change inspired ridicule from former journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan, who discussed the issue, applying the kind of balance and intellect we have become accustomed to.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he said: "'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands' - that's going to have to go now, isn't it?

"If you're happy and you know it and you want to clap your hands, be careful - it may trigger anxiety. So, if you're happy, don't clap your hands, children."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: uk news, Interesting, Manchester, University, Education

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Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]