Close it down: ‘Chavs Vs. Toffs’ event sparks anger

1551656_491293234321710_391820931_nTwo University colleges have sparked anger after an event called ‘Chavs Vs. Toffs’ was accused of “perpetuating stereotypes”.

The joint bar crawl, between Halifax College and James College, has come under fire by students and members of the public who have accused the colleges of using the word ‘chav’ – a stereotype used by the British media to refer to an antisocial youth subculture – as a basis for a “great night out”.

Feminist and PhD student at the University of Sussex Gillian Love said on Twitter: “Yo @yorkunisu, will you sort out @JamesJCRC ? They seem to think perpetuating stereotypes about ‘chavs’ is a great basis for a night out.”

But the word ‘toff’ is also at the centre of the storm – a separate stereotype used to describe someone with an aristocratic background.

The £3 event, which runs tonight (January 16), has asked students to either dress up as a ‘chav’ for Halifax College, or go out as a ‘toff’ for James College.

A description on the YUSU website says: “Don your Barbour jackets and lets [sic] take the chavs from James back to school!”

Meanwhile, the public Facebook page adds: “Halifax get your trackies, Burberyy [sic] and caps ready and James crack out your top hats, canes and monacles for a night of Halifax Vs James rivalry!”

The Chair of the Socialist Society, Megan Ollerhead, condemned the event for ‘poking fun’ at the working class and unemployed. She told Vision: “Personally I think the Chavs and Toffs event is a particularly unpleasant example of poking fun at the working class and unemployed, something which flourishes unchecked in certain sectors of the student body.

“It propagates unfair and distorted stereotypes, the same stereotypes used to demonize benefit claimants and take swathes of money from public services, and in this light the student union should shut this event down and discontinue the theme in the future.”

YUSU President Kallum Taylor acknowledged the potential problems with the use of the words ‘chavs’ and ‘toffs’ but said a universal offence would be hard to claim because no complaints had been received.

“I’ve got big problems with both terms; ‘chav’ and ‘toff’. Both of them have ugly and unfair connotations which have been forced onto them by those looking to ridicule and mock people and aspects of their lives who are from either ‘side’ of the socio-economic spectrum,” he said.

“We’ve received no complaints about it though, so it would be unfair to claim a universal offence of behalf of YUSU’s membership. However, students can lobby the respective college committees though – who can easily address this in the future.”

Vision has attempted to contact both the chair of James College and president of Halifax College for a response.

14 thoughts on “Close it down: ‘Chavs Vs. Toffs’ event sparks anger

  1. Seriously, can no-one have fun any more? Some themed nights such as ‘Pimps and sluts’ or whatever they’re called are clearly offensive and degrading to women when they are compelled to dress as sex objects as if to ironically shame them for having sex. But chavs and toffs? As this article mentions, ‘chav’ is an antisocial and undesirable sub-culture and one that can be light-heartedly mocked in a ironic sense, rather than being a mockery of poorer, working-class people.

    To take ‘chav’ and ‘working class’ as being synonymous and then complaining about the use of the former word is simply an instance of someone perpetuating the stereotype that they are complaining about. I myself am definitely from a working class background and find ‘chav’ culture a million miles from myself.’Toff’, likewise, is not exactly insulting, but simply exists as an exaggerated opposite to ‘chav’ culture.

    A number of people degrading female sexuality by labelling themselves ‘sluts’ on a night out is offensive, but unrealistically exaggerating sub-cultural extremes is not at all the same.

  2. Shall we ban caveman socials as they’re disrespectful to cavepeople? Or pub golf events as they may offend golfers? What about OAP nights, army socials or emergency service themed nights out? If we take away anything that can be considered offensive to anyone then we’ll be left with nothing at all.

  3. This sounds like a bunch of tumblr social justice bloggers making a fuss for the sake of making it. Get off your high horse and enjoy the party.

  4. Hiya guys,
    We are shocked to hear that there have been complaints about this event, nothing about this has been brought to our attention, from Nouse nor anyone else. It is completely biased and unprofessional to post this article without consulting us here at Halifax, and we would have like to have been able to express our views on the matter before it became a point of controversy. We apologise for any upset this has caused, however, we went ahead with the event due to the success of last years’ bar crawl. The previous committee did not inform us of any issues and this is the first negative response we have heard. With regards to the theme, we do not have any malicious intent by perpetuating such stereotypes, we merely wish to ridicule how the divide present within society is portrayed within popular culture. York students come from a variety of different backgrounds and I think we can all appreciate that neither ‘chavs’ nor ‘toffs’ is an accurate representation of us or anyone else.
    Many thanks,
    Fax Love x

  5. It’s not even YUSU’s job to “sort out” James JCRC or any other college committee. Do whatever the fuck you want. If it is genuinely a bad idea it would be advised against but at the end of the day colleges call the shots.
    Also, what the hell has any of this got to do with people that “don’t even go here”? People should stop sticking their oar in to what has nothing to do with them, let alone someone who isn’t a student here telling the SU what to do.

  6. This is just ridiculous. The only people complaining are the writer and one tweet. If I tweet a noise complaint about my neighbour will you write an article calling for my neighbour to be banned from making noise?

  7. “Personally I think the Chavs and Toffs event is a particularly unpleasant example of poking fun at the working class and unemployed”

    I find it offensive that this person thinks working class and/or unemployed people are the same thing as chavs…

  8. @Sarah I’m sure they will. We’ll get the Offensive Noise Society to comment on how it “pokes fun” at dumb people.

  9. I think the idea that this is something to complain about is ridiculous, and as pointed out above assuming that chav is synonymous with the working class and toff is with the upper class is narrow minded. People need to pipe down, stop perpetuating their own delusions of self importance acting like people really care what they have to say; like the YUSU Pres pointed out there has not been any complaints and nor should there be, people just need to chill out!

  10. As a true toff I find it hard to believe people would be offended by this. To be honest I am flattered that people would want to dress like me.

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