An annual college fancy dress bash could be facing the chop after being branded “ignorant” and “derogatory”.
Students have blasted Derwent JCRC bosses after they announced the controversial ‘Chav D’ disco is scheduled to take place on 17th April.
The Club D event inviting students to wear ‘tracksuit bottoms’, ‘gold chains’ and ‘fake tan’ has come under fire for its ‘chav’ theme – a stereotype used by the British media to refer to an antisocial youth subculture.
The Chair of the York Student Socialist Society, Jack Chadwick, called for the event to be axed saying: “Events like this, year after year, use rubbish stereotypes to make fun of working class people.
“Asides from being just plain boring, they’re a dim reflection of the fact that prejudicial views towards working people flourish among certain posher sections of the student body.
“These stereotypes are used to justify cuts to benefits and feed the narrative of the ‘undeserving poor’ that underwrites the austerity agenda of the main parties. The student union should shut this down.”
A video released on the Derwent JCRC Facebook account revealed the event would be held in the traditional venue of D Bar.
The video was uploaded with the caption: “Already bored at home? Here’s something to look forward to? Get ready. It’s going to be messy…”
Derwent College fresher Katie Smith reacted furiously to the event describing it as “the epitome of middle class ignorance”.
She said: “Dressing up as a ‘chav’ trivialises problems faced by the working class and alienates a certain group of people.
“The fact that we’re privileged enough to be discussing this event, holding it at arm’s length as if we as the middle class students are the people and the working class are just a problematic dressing-up theme, encapsulates why this event shouldn’t be a thing in the first place.
“Plus, pretending that the chav theme is only a matter of dress just goes to show the ignorance of the event – the word was originally an acronym for ‘council housed and violent’.
“To try and cover up the cultural, social, and economic origins of the word is exactly what the event does by its mere existence: give a bunch of middle-class rich kids the chance to ridicule the working class and pretend that there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever.”
Responding to student outcry, Rosalie Dowding, Derwent JCRC Chair, released a statement defending the event.
She said: “In my opinion ‘chav’ is an association with appearance and culture, and has nothing to do with class status.
“Equating the working class with the word chav is stereotypical and is potentially quite reductive, offensive and is an association the Derwent JCRC has never advocated or encouraged.
“The event, if anything, plays to the ridiculous caricature that surrounds the word and, in doing so, ridicules this stereotype – as opposed to praising it.
“This Club D is a Derwent tradition in its own right and has been proven to be one of the most successful and enduring college events.
“The event is in no way designed to alienate or isolate groups within the University”
Dave Atkinson, a third year PPE student, hit back, denouncing the JCRC’s statement as “ridiculous” and said: “’Chav D’ is ridiculing the people who fall under the stereotype, not the stereotype itself.
“It’s a derogatory term of abuse and they should stop trying to excuse it.”
YUSU President Sam Maguire said: “The decision to hold this event is purely a college one and YUSU has little control over that. As of last year, JCRC’s are written into the college’s constitution and not ours.
“The word chav can be used offensively and I think it is important that the college reflect on whether the event is appropriate and how it will affect all of their members.
“If any college members are concerned about the event they should contact the college and make a formal complaint.”
Last year, Vision reported on controversy surrounding Halifax and James College’s ‘Chavs Vs. Toffs’ joint bar crawl, which was accused of “perpetuating stereotypes”.