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Away from the sport on Roses weekend two societies used the opportunity to raise awareness of student campaigns. The LGBTQ* association were a constant presence outside the Sports Centre over the weekend, obtaining signatures for a pledge to support the NUS ‘Out in Sport’ Campaign. The aim of the campaign is to “foster an environment where people from all walks of life feel comfortable signing up to sports teams during Freshers’ week and beyond”. The campaign initially gained prominence during the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year but the LGBTQ* association thought it was important to bring back the campaign given the array of sports on display.
The 652 people that put their names to the pledge, which in its entirety was “I pledge to make sports respectful and inclusive to everybody”, more than vindicated the decision to bring back the campaign. You could sign the pledge online as well, however the bulk of signatures collected were from spectators and participants during the Roses weekend.
Alice Tooms, who spent the weekend collecting signatures for the campaign, said that Lancaster wasn’t a university that was rife with homophobia, however it was still important to raise awareness for the campaign. She said that LUSU and in particular Emily Pollitt, VP (Activities), “have been fantastic” in helping the campaign and they felt fortunate to get such a prominent space, next to the media hub and score centre. Tooms also commented that the reception from the sports team was very positive, with many of them signing the pledge and posing for photographs with the Pride flag. She also said it was Kate Rollinson who initially came up with the idea to promote the campaign during Roses. Credit too should go to the shrewdness of the person who decided to hold the ‘I AM LANCASTER’ foam fingers hostage on the Sunday, ensuring that those who wanted a last item of Roses memorabilia signed the pledge, which gained further support for the already popular campaign.
The Lancaster and York Marrow societies also used Roses as an opportunity to recruit more people to the stem cell register. The two societies engaged in a competition as to which Marrow group could get the most people to sign up in the week Roses was held. People from Lancaster Marrow went to training sessions for many different sports teams and meetings for other societies in the week trying to recruit as many people as possible. They visited the Men’s Football, the Gospel Choir and Furness JCR amongst many other groups. As well as that, the society, which became a branch of LUSU Gives this year, had a stall for all people to sign up on the Saturday of Roses.
This was an extension of the ‘Fit to Spit’ campaign which is a national campaign led by the national Marrow charity Anthony Nolan. It stresses that all people can donate their bone marrow and that you don’t have to be fit to spit. In the competition too Lancaster beat York convincingly with Lancaster gaining 70 potential donors while the York group received 33.
Charlotte Hughes, Vice President of Lancaster Marrow, said that she was very happy with beating York but more importantly with the amount of people they managed to sign up collectively. Hughes also said “it was quite nerve-wracking going to the different sports teams and talking to them about the society and what we do. But most of them listened intently and some even signed up to the register straightaway”. Lancaster Marrow also hopes that the competition can continue for every Roses which means that it could even make it on to the schedule next year and maybe even become an event worth points in the future. Given the expansion we have seen in Roses and the success in this campaign it would be foolish to rule that out. Both these campaigns have helped highlight the way any student can participate in Roses and the way the tournament can help make a difference on and off the sports field.