In Brief

Why Oxford students have banned clapping

Motion to replace applause with jazz hands has faced condemnation and mockery

Students at Oxford University will replace clapping at student union events with “silent jazz hands” after concerns that applause could trigger anxiety.

Officials at the university’s student union say that clapping causes an “access issue” for some disabled students who have “anxiety disorders, sensory sensitivity and those who use hearing aids”.

Jazz hands - the waving of your hands around shoulder height - is a form used in sign language to signify applause.

The union’s welfare and equal opportunity officer, Roisin McCallion, said she proposed the motion to make the union’s democratic events “more accessible and inclusive for all, including people who suffer from anxiety”.

But her move has faced widespread condemnation. Broadcaster Piers Morgan said the union was populated by “imbeciles”, while Jeremy Vine posted a photograph of soldiers in the trenches during World War One, saying that they had managed to “ignore the difficulties caused by sudden noises 100 years ago”.

A former student told The Sun: “Oxford University Student Union is always seeking to be more accommodating. But this idea will not work and is completely ludicrous.”

This is not the first time that such a move has caused proposed. When students at the University of Manchester voted to ditch clapping and cheering at the union’s “democratic events” the story captured the attention of Jeb Bush, the brother of the former US president George W Bush. “Not cool, University of Manchester,” he said. “Not cool.”

Yahoo says that a condition called hyperacusis can make everyday sounds louder than they are for some. The NHS says that a hyperacusis sufferer’s relationships, work and “general wellbeing” can all be affected by the condition.

Deaf people can also face problems with applause because hearing aids can pick up on the sound, turning it into an irritating white noise.

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