On Tuesday, the University of Oxford student union voted in favor of silent applause. Instead of clapping, yelling, or other noises, audiences will now show their support with jazz hands.
Metro reports that the decision was made in order to foster a more sensitive, inclusive environment for students with anxiety or other disorders who might be triggered by loud noises. Jazz hands, a hand-waving motion popularized on stage and screen by choreographer Bob Fosse, is the British Sign Language expression for applause.
According to The Oxford Student, noises like whooping and clapping “are argued to present an access issue for some disabled students who have anxiety disorders, sensory sensitivity, and/or those who use hearing impairment aids.”
Considering that the motion was made during the very first meeting of the year, it definitely seems like an especially important cause to students. As officer Róisín McCallion told Metro, “Inclusivity is one of the Students’ Union’s founding principles.”
The clapping ban will be specific to student union events at first, and the officers hope to expand it to other university events if it’s successful.
Oxford isn’t the first institution to enact such a mandate. According to The Telegraph, the National Union of Students in the UK started using jazz hands back in 2015, and the Manchester University student union sanctioned a clapping ban just last year.
Noise sensitivity is a good example of an issue that we might not always realize is actually a sign of anxiety—here are some other common problems that can be related to the disorder.