Take a Stand is a campaign originally run by British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) in response to widespread concerns about the impact of initiations — it’s about a vision for more inclusive clubs where students always feel welcome irrespective of anything. This means being bold and courageous, to stand up and be proactive for positive, long-term changes.
Owen Jones, Activities Officer (Manchester) describes it this way:
"Take A stand isn’t about ‘telling you off’, ‘being the fun police’ or banning traditions — it’s about education and empathy. It’s about opening your mind to thinking how others may feel in certain situations. What works for one of group of athletes may not work for another. At the end of the day we’re all athletes."
Andy Young, Activities Officer (Cheshire) also says:
"Take A Stand is about providing a safe sport environment for students so that they can enjoy the sport they love safely and not be pressured into doing things that they wouldn’t want to do. It is about showing people alternatives and other options."
What’s the big deal?
Owen says: "At uni, there are a lot of barriers that pop up alongside your degree, like the pressures of the course, the stress of meeting deadlines, the lack of money and the desire to fit in. One of the best ways to escape from all of this is to play sport. Sport has the power to do something that very few things can, and that is to bring people from all walks of life together. Yet it is guilty of being cliquey. Everyone who plays a sport have some common interests, but everyone is also dealing with their own personal issues."
Initiation behaviour and bullying results in people feeling they can’t try sports, join teams or even dropping out of their chosen sport. This deprives students of all the benefits sports have to offers: friends for life, skills for employment and a fun and active life at university.
Andy adds: "Sport is a big part of people’s lives — we want people to come to our university and it to still be a big part of their lives without them being scared of what might happen if they join a sports club. It is all about tackling all forms of antisocial behaviour in sport and to me that can be on or off the pitch. Take A Stand provides a supportive and strong campaign all students can get behind to allow them to take any hate that exists out of the sports we love."
What does inclusion mean?
Overall, inclusion means that students always feel welcome in a sporting environment, feel proud to be part of their club, can express and be themselves without fear of judgement or persecution, feel safe from pressure to conform, feel empowered to act with integrity, feel respected and respect others. As Owen says: "We all want to compete and represent our university. Wearing the orange and blue is more than about who has done their initiation, more than about who has been on tour and more than about who comes out every Wednesday."
Andy adds: "Inclusion is all about accepting everyone from any background no matter who you are. The dream for this campaign is to see students from all background coming together to watch, play and support the team and sport they love playing in the blue and orange."
Your Sports Council and Cheshire Council have come up with a vision specific to Manchester Met by writing a pledge based on the top five values of Sports Clubs and Societies: Equality, Teamwork, Respect, Acceptance and Motivation; these are the values we want to embed into everything we do as a sporting community.
How can I get involved?
All sports clubs will be invited to sign the pledge in Manchester and in Crewe - you’ll receive a guidance pack for your team as well as wristbands. Keep an eye out for the pledge signing dates coming soon.
Take A Stand is about being proactive, so ask yourself, is the environment you are playing sport in an inclusive one?
Owen says: "I urge you to challenge discriminatory behaviour, bullying culture and events which push people out. Open your club, accept everyone, put on different types of events and find a way to welcome everyone that is inclusive — that way we grow our membership, our clubs and our experience."
Andy says: "I hope and urge all students to join us in this campaign to stop the bad press university sports teams can sometimes have, and show people that we are not just a group of teams playing for the same university — we are one single unit across two campuses that work together to provide the best sporting experience for anyone coming to the university, to show that #WeAreMMU and this is what we value."
Got an idea for a campaign? Tell us about it. The Union can support you to create change on issues that matter to you.