STUDENTS
11/11/2013 11:17 GMT | Updated 11/11/2013 11:17 GMT

York University's 'Sexist' Tory Fox Hunting Social Cancelled Following Chloroform Threats

York University
Flickr: Timothy E Baldwin
York University

A university's Conservative society cancelled its fox hunting social over fears for students' safety, following claims chloroform could be sprayed at its members.

The student head of York University's Tory society (YCS) alleged the event had to be ditched due to threats from "certain members of the feminist and vegetarian society groups on Facebook", which they have vehemently denied.

Dan Hawkridge, chair of the YCS, said the threats included “spraying us with red paint, lemon juice, water pistols with food dye, deodorant and chloroform", student publication Nouse reported.

According to local paper the York Press, Ali Ryland, chair of the university's Vegetarian And Vegan Society (VegSoc), reportedly threatened action against the Tories, saying: "VegSoc will endorse anyone protesting the social, red paint encouraged."

The event was subsequently cancelled after female freshers said they felt unsafe about attending the event.

Nouse, however, quoted Ryland denying the threats, calling them "wild allegations" which are "merely sensationalist and an attempt to denigrate VegSoc and UOY Feminists".

"The event was tasteless and out of touch, and it’s cancellation is a positive thing," Ryland added. "The spurious and frankly amusing claims that it was cancelled because of supposed threats are being used to obscure the real reasons for concern regarding the actions of the Tory Society committee."

Dan Hawkridge, the chairman of the society, said: “I don’t think that the event is sexist. The gender roles were a suggestion, we weren’t intending on causing offence or making a social statement. Sexual harassment and sexism is disgusting and we put the safety of our freshers at the forefront of all of our events.

"The dress code is completely voluntary. Plenty of other societies run fox hunting events and chase style events. We aren’t making a statement about fox hunting; it’s tongue-in-cheek. People who dress up for Hallowe’en aren’t making a statement about being a zombie, are they?”

Sarah Ralphs, vice chair of the York Tories, added the event was "very popular" and the allocation of gender-based roles was "purely a suggestion", with individuals free to select their role.

Josie Field, York University student union's women’s officer, gave her reason as to why the event had been cancelled: "Following numerous expressions of justified concern regarding the York Tories Fox Hunting social, several YUSU officers and myself met with key members of York Tories to negotiate altering their event. The discussion was positive and constructive, it ended with the fair compromise that the event would undergo some important revisions and still go on.

“Sadly, due to pressure from the national press, this rare and positive collaboration between the York Tories and the Women’s Network has been somewhat erased."

Field added: "However, of course, we are happy that the original social did not take place, it was ultimately offensive and portrayed outdated sexist views that have no place in a contemporary University society."