A prominent British university is fire-fighting toxic allegations of misogyny, assault, and snobbery Wednesday after a group of male students in a “lads chat” on WhatsApp joked about an alleged competition among “posh lads competing on fucking the poorest girl.”
The group at tony Durham University also joked about the “most cost effective way” of getting women drunk to take advantage of them sexually, and are also alleged to have made a number of racist comments.
The university told The Daily Beast that it would investigate the allegations, and could revoke admission offers or expel the students involved if the comments, which were first revealed by student newspaper The Tab, were found to be genuine.
The screenshotted comments from the WhatsApp group, entitled, “Durham boys making all the noise,” were posted on Facebook by concerned student Lydia Gibson, who said that she had drawn school authorities’ attention to the messages.
In one of the most disturbing sections of the chat, one boy writes, “Have I told you about the posh lads competing on fucking the poorest girl?”
The other students react to the message in disbelief but appear amused.
Another boy writes, “I’ll just shag a different bird every night for a bed,” to which others reply, “Some man,” and “Life hacks.”
Student newspaper The Tab reported the group is believed to have around 60 members, and that a number of comments were also made about rape, race, and whether or not members of the group will “snitch” on each other by discussing the messages with others.
Messages in the group chat began with statements including “First rule about boys club… You don’t talk about boys club,” to which other boys add “Who tf leaks a lads chat fr,” and, “I’m not a snitch so I’m not about to rat you out from the other group convo.” Another notes: “But keep out of it like, everything we say should be taken with a pinch of salt, that’s what epitomizes a lad or boy.”
After posting the screenshots in the Facebook group Overheard at Durham University, to warn female students, Gibson told the BBC: “I read these messages and I thought to myself this is not acceptable…this type of mind-set and what they were saying really is not OK… you can’t come to university and think that this kind shameless texting is OK.”
Gibson said she had received “loads and loads of support” and added, “we have also had quite a lot of current students (saying) they are not surprised at this, how this is quite common at Durham University. This kind of behavior can be quite common at certain universities and it tends to be actually the top universities.”
Gibson said the “elitist, entitled mind-set” of some students “can translate to women, sometimes men can feel that they are entitled to women and I feel it gets worse at the top universities.”
Gibson added: “I’ve had quite a lot of people directly message me, thanking me for actually speaking out publicly.”
She said there had been a significantly smaller number of critics of her actions, who had accused her of “being dramatic, that I’ve blown it out of proportion, that is just joking around.”
The university’s induction week, known as Freshers Week, starts Sept. 28 at the school in the far north of England.
Jeremy Cook, Durham’s pro-vice-chancellor, told The Daily Beast:
“The university has been made aware of some utterly abhorrent comments on social media that we understand may have been posted by Durham students.
“Durham University utterly condemns the content and behaviour demonstrated in these social media posts. This is entirely unacceptable and violates the values and behaviors that we uphold as a University community.
“We instigated an immediate investigation by our student disciplinary team as soon as we were made aware of these social media posts. If these posts are found to be genuine and attributable, we will take action to ensure that those involved will have no place at Durham University.
“Any of our students who have been affected by this social media activity are advised to contact welfare support or their colleges who will be able to offer them help and support.
“Our students are regularly reminded to display positive and collegial conduct, and exercise responsibility and respect for others, particularly through their social media interactions.”