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Students Are Outraged Over A Facebook Group Where Women's Nude Photos Are Shared And Rated

A Facebook group where students are said to be sharing and "rating" private photos of women is being investigated by a university in Ireland. Students tell BuzzFeed News the group is reflective of a "lad culture" on campus.

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the UCD 'slut walk' in 2015

the UCD 'slut walk' in 2015

University College Dublin (UCD) has opened an investigation into claims that male students are sharing and "rating" nude photos of female students on Facebook without their consent.

In response to a report by UCD's student newspaper, the College Tribune, UCD said it had opened an investigation into around 200 mostly agricultural science students who are said to be in a "revenge porn" Facebook group, and said students could be expelled if found to be involved in such activity.

In an email sent on Monday and seen by BuzzFeed News, Professor Mark Rogers, president of UCD, said the investigation was "progressing" and that the university's "primary concern is to support any vulnerable student victimised by this alleged activity".

The discussion over the Facebook group has prompted a wider debate by UCD students over "lad culture" at the university. Some students have been speaking out against sexism using the hashtag #UCD200 in reference to the Facebook group.

People out there really think that sending a nude of yourself is as morally reprehensible as sharing a nude of someone else. #UCD200

Isn't it crazy that women are being told to simply not send nudes when every woman I know has been sent as unsolicited dick pic... #UCD200

standing with every girl who was violated in that iniquitous ucd facebook chat. name every lad publicly. don't let this go unpunished.

Leah Moloney, an 18-year-old UCD student, said the Facebook group is not an isolated incident and that social media is often used to target women.

She said she was tired of some people defending themselves by saying they had "only" sent two or three photos to the Facebook group that is currently under investigation.

"I do not like to generalise, however from conversations I have had about this sort of behaviour is considered the 'norm' among certain groups of 'lads'," Moloney said. "Unfortunately, those involved do not see the negative and enduring implications of what they have done. We need to create a society where such actions are shamed."

Dee, another UCD student, told BuzzFeed News: "I somehow feel unsafe, even when myself and other students here are not irresponsible. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way."

Dee added: "It wouldn't be fair to assume every Ag Sci student I walk past is part of the group. But with that being said, of course I feel uncomfortable and disgust, especially about the 'lad culture' that exists at a university that's meant to uphold the highest standards and integrity."

The student union has condemned the alleged Facebook group. But some students have told BuzzFeed News the union was aware of the "revenge porn" Facebook group back in December, and that it failed to take action.

Facebook

Last October, the student union launched a "consent" campaign, and hosted a protest against street harassment in which several hundred UCD students participated.

The student union said last week that it will be introducing consent classes and working with women's charities to change "lad" culture in UCD that they say it the root of the problem.

"We're not going to pass the buck," the student union said in a Facebook post, signed by UCD student leaders Marcus O'Halloran and Hazel Beattie. "We will change 'lad' culture in UCD as promised following our election to office."

The union added: "University management must now come completely on board and help us fund badly needed policy changes including mandatory sexual consent workshops, clearly communicated procedures to report sexual harassment, assault, rape & revenge porn."

The recent events reignited the controversy over an incident last year when the university's current student president was involved in a similar "derogatory" Facebook group called "Girls Iā€™d shift if I was tipsy".

UCD

UCD students made complaints against Marcus O'Halloran last March, when he was still campaigning to be elected student president.

Students raised concerns that O'Halloran ā€“ who had been a member of the group for over a year ā€“ had "liked" the majority of the page's posts. O'Halloran later apologised for his involvement in the group, saying it was "unacceptable" and that the group was not representative of "his opinions on women's rights or gender equality".

In light of O'Halloran's past involvement in similar groups, some students have voiced scepticism over the union's latest comments on Facebook condemning "lad culture" and revenge porn.

Facebook
Facebook

Author Louise O'Neill, who was behind UCD's consent campaign, which launched last October, said in a Facebook post that has been widely shared that she was shocked by the Facebook group.

Facebook

"When I first read about it, I sat in stunned silence for about 10 minutes," O'Neill told BuzzFeed News. "Is this what men thought was acceptable behaviour behind closed doors? Did people think women's bodies were something they were entitled to use for their own amusement; their sexuality something to be laughed at?"

O'Neill says that after she posted her Facebook status, she received messages saying "not all men", that her post was "feminist propaganda", and that "it's just a bit of banter".

But, she said, "It's never just banter. It's never just words. These comments and these Facebook groups are the building blocks to a culture where so many women feel belittled, humiliated, sexualised without their consent, and, ultimately, unsafe."

Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rossalyn Warren at rossalyn.warren@buzzfeed.com.

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