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Student Union Bans Clapping In Effort To Be More Inclusive

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Whenever you see an incredible performance, or see a great feat be accomplished, it's second nature for us to give them a round of applause.

While clapping may seem like the norm for us - as people have been clapping for centuries - not everyone agrees giving an ovation is the best way to show your appreciation.

But is there an alternative?

Well, after representatives of one university voiced their concerns over the act, it made the decision to replace clapping in favor of a new gesture of appreciation.

"[It] encourages an atmosphere that is not as respectful as it could be."

The University of Manchester has raised plenty of eyebrows after the student union voted to swap out clapping for jazz hands (the British Sign Language expression for applause) for specific events.  

Union officer Sara Khan said by eliminating the noisy gesture is a more inclusive motion that will help cultivate an "environment of respect."

She said they are also discouraging "whooping" as it can discourage some people from attending debates, panels and talks.

"I think a lot of the time, even in Parliamentary debates, I've seen that clapping, whooping, talking over each other, loud noises, encourages an atmosphere that is not as respectful as it could be," Khan told the BBC.

Even though this may seem like a relatively new practice, this isn't the first time a student union has discouraged students from clapping.

"Inclusivity is one of the students’ union’s founding principles."

In 2015, the National Union of Students (NUS) of the United Kingdom decided to swap out clapping for jazz hands at democratic events. This did not include gigs, theater productions or sports games.

In a statement, the student union said the new policy was created in an effort to accommodate those with sensory issues or autism.

"Inclusivity is one of the students’ union’s founding principles. We recognize that minority groups are underrepresented in political environments and we are working to address that. This policy is one way of doing so inside our union.

We have already received many positive responses from disabled students (some of whom are deaf or autistic), who are pleased to feel more included in our democratic process. Some of them plan to attend upcoming democratic events at the [student union] for the first time, thanks to this policy."

Nona Buckley-Irvine, the then general secretary of the London School of Economics students’ union, told the BBC that while it was odd at first, the NUS instituted a more inclusive gesture.

"I’m relatively new to this and it did feel odd at first, but once you’ve used jazz hands a couple of times, it becomes a genuinely nice way to show solidarity with a point and it does add to creating a more inclusive atmosphere," she said.

"Jazz hands are used throughout NUS in place of clapping as a way to show appreciation of someone’s point without interrupting or causing disturbance, as it can create anxiety."

However, not everybody shares the same opinions.

Reactions

Although the majority of people are in favor of this policy, there are still several individuals who are opposed to the change-up, including popular journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan.

But despite the contrasting opinions, the student union said it had received positive feedback from students, and has no plans on removing the policy.

"We also received many positive responses from disabled students (some of whom who were deaf or autistic), who were delighted to feel more included in our democratic process," it said in a statement.

[H/T: The Guardian, BBC]

What do you think about the new policy? Let us know in the comments!

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com