By Gavin Havery
December 1, 2017 - Former pitmen are planning to help students understand the North-East’s industrial heritage after a university rugby team organized a social event mocking the Miners’ Strike.
Durham Miners’ Association is to work with Durham University to educate students to help them appreciate the coal-mining heritage of the county.
Miners’ leaders met with University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge on Tuesday following Trevelyan College Rugby Club’s attempt to organize a pickets versus police ‘Battle of Orgreave’ themed social event.
Players were asked to come with ‘flat caps, filth and a general disregard for personal safety’ to represent the colliery workers, with others dressing up as ‘working class-beating bobbies’.
The rugby club’s error of judgement led to a flood of complaints and outrage on mainstream and social media over the offence it caused to the former mining communities of County Durham and beyond.
DMA secretary Alan Cummings said: “The university has apologized profusely for the offense caused by this incident.
“We have had emails from the students’ union, the college and, most importantly, a heartfelt apology from the rugby club.
“We accept that the rugby club was acting in ignorance and they genuinely regret for what they have done.”
The DMA will help the university to structure a student induction program which includes an understanding and appreciation of the county and its people.”
Cummings added: “We will continue to maintain good, constructive relations with students, academics and researchers at the university.
“Clearly, we can’t condone a lack of respect for the people of County Durham on this scale.
“It has raised a critical question about how university students relate to working class people, not just in Durham, but elsewhere.
“We should all learn lessons from this episode.”
The DMA has also invited the Trevelyan College Rugby Club to the historic Miners’ Hall so they can see the contribution miners have made to British history.
Durham University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge said: “The university is extremely grateful to the DMA for the constructive discussions we have had in regard to the rugby club incident.
“We now look forward to working with the DMA on an important education program based around the history of the Durham coalfield and County Durham.
“The program will benefit all students coming to Durham University, including a growing number of students from the North-East who will join us from increasingly diverse backgrounds.”
Students were asked to dress up as miners or police men for the strike-themed event