The National Union of Students warned audience members at its conference that they must not clap or cheer during speeches because clapping and cheering make deaf people feel excluded.
According to an article in The Telegraph, attendees at last week’s conference were warned that clapping and cheering could have a “serious impact” on deaf participants, and they were instructed to use “jazz hands” to show their support instead.
“No whooping, it does have a serious impact on some delegates’ ability to access [the] conference,” Estelle Hart, an NUS elections-committee member and chairwoman of a Thursday session, told students.
According to The Telegraph, Hart had to remind people not to “whoop” at least one other time during the conference, and NUS Vice President for Welfare Shelly Asquith had to bring it up as well, claiming that the group has had “a number of requests that people stop whooping.” In fact, the whooping issue apparently became so serious that the Durham University student union used time at the conference to propose a motion that called for “reduced cheering or unnecessary loud noises on the conference floor, including whooping and clapping,” at all future NUS events on the grounds that “access needs of disabled students are disregarded/overlooked in terms of conference member behavior and NUS structures” and that this can be a threat to their “safety and wellbeing.” The motion added that there would be “consequences for those who ignore this requirement.”
Although the demonization of whooping and cheering is new for NUS, the demonization of clapping is not. As The Telegraph notes, attendees at a 2015 conference were instructed to use jazz hands instead of claps to show support on the grounds that clapping could “trigger anxiety.”
You know what triggers my anxiety? Having to read garbage like this. I mean, seriously. The NUS is the largest student union in Britain, and when they all get together for a conference, this is what they choose to talk about? All of the potential pitfalls of clapping?
Why don’t they focus on some of the more important issues? You know, like the potential pitfalls of jazz hands. After all, if clapping excludes deaf people, wouldn’t jazz hands exclude blind people? Terribly insensitive. The NUS really shouldn’t rest until people completely stop showing any visual or audible signs of approval whatsoever. Until people just sit still and silently at all times for fear of upsetting someone. Yes, that’s the world we should all want to live in. It doesn’t sound like a creepy, totalitarian Twilight Zone — no, not at all.
This story was previously covered in an article on Heat Street.
– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.