Oxford University’s student union has instituted an unofficial ban on clapping during student functions over fears the loud noise may trigger anxiety and the rapid hand movements and noise could alienate students who are unable or unwilling to clap.
The Daily Mail reports that students and faculty are instead being encouraged to use “jazz hands” and other silent means of assent, and to explore using alternatives to clapping for meetings and gatherings.
The edict came from Oxford’s Student Union, which claims to be leading the way to a more “inclusive” environment at the thousand-year-old institute of higher learning in Britain.
“The first Student Council meeting of the academic year, yesterday, passed the motion to mandate the Sabbatical Officers to encourage the use of British Sign Language (BSL) clapping, otherwise known as ‘silent jazz hands’ at Student Council meetings and other official SU events,” a statement from the Oxford Student Council read.
They continued, “BSL clapping is used by the National Union of Students since loud noises, including whooping and traditional applause, are argued to present an access issue for some disabled students who have anxiety disorders, sensory sensitivity, and/or those who use hearing impairment aids.”
The statement briefly mentions that the New York Times believes “snapping is the new clapping,” but it seems the Oxford Student Union passed on the opportunity to incorporate snapping fingers as one of its alternative motions of assent, possibly because snapping fingers might also be triggering to or exclusive of some students.
The statement concludes with an action statement, mandating that Student Council members use “jazz hands” in official meetings and at events, and encouraging Student Union officers to press Oxford University to adopt the “inclusive” jazz hands policy across the board: “As well as mandating the Sabbatical Officers to encourage the use of jazz hands at Student Council, the motion also mandates Sabbatical Officers to ‘lobby the University’ to use jazz hands in place of applause at University and college level events, with an explanation of why the change is important.”
As the Washington Examiner points out, Oxford University has been in operation since the 1050s, and is one of the oldest and most storied institutions of higher learning in the world. However, its centuries long record of scholarly pursuits and rigorous intellectualism was no match for trendy social justice warrior-ism.
Oxford is the second such university in the UK to adopt the “ban” on applause; the other, Manchester University, passed a similar rule last year. The Oxford Student Union makes clear, in their statement, that they were inspired by Manchester’s courageous students.
Unfortunately for both Oxford and Manchester, their proposed “jazz hands” alternative to clapping may not be the clean, social justice option they believe it to be. None other than UK television presented Piers Morgan weighed in on Twitter, pointing out that “jazz hands” appears to be a racially charged term and that a solely visual means of declaring assent excludes the blind and disabled — and also that the Oxford Student Union is a bunch of “imbeciles.”
H @OxfordSU_WEO, re your ban on clapping to stop students with anxiety being triggered, & use of silent ‘jazz hands’ instead..
a) Performing ‘jazz hands’ is racist.
b) Your new rule excludes blind people, so will make them feel marginalised.
c) Grow a pair you imbeciles.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 24, 2019
The Student Council, though, says it remains committed to its decision. “The policy was proposed in order to encourage the use of British Sign Language clapping during our democratic events to make those events more accessible and inclusive for all, including people who suffer from anxiety,” one Student Council officer said in a statement. “Inclusivity is one of the Students’ Union’s founding principles.”