'Offensive' student T-shirts are 'hate speech'

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A students' union officer who leaked photos showing students wearing "offensive" T-shirts says what was written on them was "hate speech".

Members of a Lancaster University sports club were pictured wearing outfits with slogans which referenced child abuse and rape.

The officer says she leaked the photos because an investigation by the uni's students' union was taking too long.

The union says it "takes allegations of this kind very seriously".

  • WARNING: Some readers may find the photos below distasteful

The photos were taken during a white T-shirt social event which was organised by the university's Snowsports Society.

They were uploaded onto the Facebook page of the union's nightclub Sugarhouse. It's understood the event happened in early October.

The Lancaster University Students' Union launched an investigation after the images were reported to them.

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The T-shirts appeared to include written slogans such as "Mandela touches kids" and "Sandy Hook was bantz".

The students' union officer, who we've agreed not to name, was on the panel looking into it.

The photos were removed from the Facebook page but she felt the investigation was taken too long so she posted the photos again.

She told Radio 1 Newsbeat she believes what was written on the T-shirt can be classed as "hate speech".

"Some of the statements written were extremely triggering and sensitive to certain groups in society."

image copyright@LeonShakaFraser/Twitter

The officer says she doesn't support the idea that while the slogans written on the T-shirts might be offensive to some, they're freedom of speech - or an attempt at sick humour.

"Although they are just statements written on a T-shirt, there is no way to prove they might not follow up with actions and that they generally believe it," she said.

She's accused the union of keeping the images "hidden" because they were taken down from the club's Facebook page.

"The pictures were posted publicly, the fact that it was hidden by the union was extremely immoral," she said.

image copyright@LeonShakaFraser/Twitter

The officer has been temporarily suspended from her post for leaking the photos.

The Lancaster Students' Union said the Snowsports club was suspended as soon as it became aware of the issue and a panel was investigating what further action should be taken.

"We're extremely disappointed that this information has been made public before the investigation was concluded and that our panel has been compromised.

"The union takes allegations of this kind very seriously and the matter is being handled in line with our disciplinary procedures."

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Lancaster University told Newsbeat it supports the investigation being handled by the students' union.

"While the students' union is responsible for the conduct of any student society, the university expects all members of its community to behave with respect and tolerance for others and is prepared to use its own disciplinary procedures if necessary where behaviour falls short of those standards."

Newsbeat has tried to contact the Lancaster University Snowsports society for further comment.

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