Trevelyan College Rugby Club suspended indefinitely over miners’ strike social theme

By Ben Sladden

Trevelyan College Rugby Club have been suspended indefinitely amidst widespread controversy following a 1980s miners’ strike-themed social.

A statement obtained by Palatinate from the Rugby Club’s Exec to its members, states: “This means that we will not be able to participate in matches or socials for the foreseeable future.”

“We would like to re-iterate that if anyone contacts you regarding the club or college, even if they don’t claim to be involved with the press, do not engage with them at all.”

The now-cancelled social, advertised through a Facebook event, called on members to dress as miners, with “flat caps, filth and a general disregard for personal safety.”

“Think pickaxes… think headlamps… think 12% unemployment in 1984,” the event description read.

The “backs” were instructed to dress as members of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government.

The Facebook event said: “You are to elect one member to come as the Iron Lady herself. We want variety too, so a few working-class-beating-bobbys [sic] wouldn’t go amiss.

“Nor would a few Falklands war heroes. You get the gist.”

The University has forcefully condemned the event.

Owen Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University, stated:

“Durham University and Trevelyan College utterly deplore this event which is wholly unacceptable.”

“Durham University is extremely proud of the positive contribution it makes to Durham City and North East England and our place in the rich heritage of this region,” the University’s statement continues.

“We know that most students are active and positive residents of their communities. For example, students undertook more than 14,000 hours of volunteering last year.

“We work closely with partners including Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary and local residents’ groups with the aim of ensuring there is a positive environment for all who live and work in Durham City.

“Regrettably, there are occasions where student behaviour falls short of the standards we expect.”

The Durham Miners’ Association stated it was “appalled” to hear about the event and pleased the University and college had taken “swift and appropriate action”. 

“Unfortunately, this episode has caused a great deal of hurt and anger for many in the local community who are rightly very proud of their mining heritage.”

The event has been seen as particularly insensitive given the region’s history of mine closures and violent clashes between the police and striking miners under Thatcher’s tenure in the 1980s. County Durham at its height had tens of thousands of miners working in pits across the area. 

Photograph by Venus Loi 

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