STUDENTS
28/05/2014 16:37 BST | Updated 29/05/2014 11:59 BST

Has Student Rivalry At Varsity Gone Too Far?

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Most large university cities are represented by two different establishments: the Russell Group "high-flyer" and the polytechnic university or technology college. With each university comes an attached stigma created by the two groups of students.

Due to the high entry requirements and middle-class stereotypes, students at the redbrick universities are often labelled as "swots" or "posh." Consequently, students at the opposing university are deemed less intelligent by those at the Russell Group.

Whilst to some this rivalry may seem just friendly teasing, a darker side of the taunts is slowly being revealed which could qualify as verbal abuse.

The main venue where this rivalry is displayed is at the Varsity sports events, where the two universities who share the same city are pitted against each other. At the University of Nottingham, Varsity is an extremely popular event and competition is fierce.

After losing a Varsity Basketball to University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University students started attacked the Russell Group's cheerleading squad on Twitter, cruelly comparing them to Richmond Sausages.

nottingham cheerleaders

In retaliation, the University of Nottingham cheerleaders held a banner up at another Varsity events which read: 'United by geography, divided by job prospects.'

cheer

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence at Nottingham Varsity events. University of Nottingham students are hardly innocent either. At most Varsity events, chants directed at the former polytechnic from the redbrick university include "Your dad works for my dad," and "You're thick, you're poor, you couldn't even score, Nottingham Trent, Nottingham Trent."

Nottingham is not alone in this treatment of their opposing universities, with Sheffield , Leeds, and Cardiff student papers encouraging these chants at sporting events.

Rivalry between the two same city universities can extend beyond the playing field and into basic social interaction. Third year English student Alice Ratcliffe describes her experience in meeting a student from Nottingham Trent in a club, telling The Huffington Post UK: "When he learnt that I went to University of Nottingham, he accused me of thinking I was better than him and proceeded to inform me why that wasn't the case. I hadn't even said anything judgmental he just automatically assumed the prejudice."

Another University of Nottingham third year, Megan Davies, described how a Trent student tried to guess her political views based purely on her higher education.

However for some students, the rivalry does not exist in an abusive context. Third year Nottingham Trent media student Jamie Shepherd says: "Everyone jokes about it but I've never actually found any malice between the two universities. I'd never start a fight or argument over where someone going to uni!"

And unity can be found within the two groups of students. Third year University of Nottingham classics student Alannah Davis shares a house with two Nottingham Trent students and says that it does not affect their friendship. "I think the rivalry has been created purely from the competitiveness of Varsity," she told HuffPost UK. "My friends and I don't follow sports so we don't really care about it!"

According to Davis, most of the jokes mocking intelligence are all in good humour; "We like to blame the stupid things they do on the fact that they goes to Trent, but there’s nothing serious in it, just a bit of fun!

varsity

So is same city university rivalry just sporting banter? Or is there a darker intent to these slurs on class and intelligence?

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