UCC cafe under fire after students brand latest advertising campaign as sexist

A university campus cafe has been forced to remove its latest advertising after students described the signage as sexist.

University College Cork, its students’ union, its Feminist Society, and individual students all objected to the pink signs erected in the college’s student centre. The signs bore slogans such as ‘What’s Your Cup Size?’, ‘Cheap looking!!’, and ‘Does my bun look big in this?’, all accompanied by illustrations of women.

Pink coffee cups bearing the slogans were also served to students.

James Upton, deputy president of UCC students’ union, said the body registered its objection to the signs with the management of the student centre following a meeting of the union executive on Wednesday night.

A spokeswoman for UCC said the college also objected to the signage.

“University College Cork is committed to equality as a core value of the institution,” said the spokeswoman.

“When the university became aware of the advertising campaign of the student centre it made its views known on the unacceptability of such a campaign. As a result the student centre, which is run as a separate entity, removed the offensive messages last night.”

Ellie O’Mahony, auditor of the UCC FemSoc, said management of the student centre were co-operative when the issue was raised, and praised the action of the students’ union and college, but said that the advertising campaign feeds into a wider issue facing young women in third-level education.

“It all feeds into a bigger issue; young women are the victims of sexual assault and rape on a regular basis,” said Ms Mahony.



Last year, one in seven respondents of a survey of UCC students said they had been a victim of rape or serious sexual assault. The survey was completed by 333 students, two-thirds of whom are women.

“Slut-shaming and comments on how women dress are major issues, as is cat-calling,” said Ms O’Mahony. “Signs like this enable a culture in which such behaviour is seen as OK.”

Ms O’Mahony also praised society members and the wider public who raised the issue when the signs went up on Wednesday, and said their vocal objection led to a speedy resolution of the matter.

“We immediately got comments from a number of students via email — that was a red flag and a sign that we needed to take decisive action,” she said.

Ms Mahony said that the signs were to be removed immediately, but that it was not yet known what was to be done with the offending coffee cups.

Management at the independently run student centre yesterday said it was reviewing the adverts.

“The current advertising campaign is under review by management of SFS (UCC) Ltd. No further comment will be available until this review is complete,” read a statement.


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