A report published by The Telegraph this morning revealed that over one third of students starting university are either ‘concerned or nervous’ about initiation events.
The report was carried out by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and the article included quotes from their co-chair, Chris Ramsey, who said, when asked about initiations, that students “have heard stories about things that might happen” and they are “not something they want to be part of”.
An initiation is defined as ‘the action of admitting someone into a secret or obscure society or group, typically with a ritual’.
At universities around the UK this usually involves sports teams or societies making newcomers do a variety of different tasks or challenges, most of the time involving alcohol, to ‘gain entry’ into that team or club.
From time to time these events can become dangerous, with students not only consuming vast amounts of alcohol but also items of food, which can lead to vomiting, illness or even death.
The most recent high-profile case of an ‘initiation’ that resulted in a death was Ed Farmer, a student at Newcastle University, who died after a bar crawl. According to reports the group he was with ordered 100 triple vodkas at one pub, drank vodka out of a pig’s head, and also apple bobbed in a concoction of alcohol and urine.
He died after going into cardiac arrest, caused by the “toxic effects” of consuming an excessive amount of alcohol on a night back in 2016.
Canterbury Christ Church University do not call these events ‘initiations’ but instead Welcome Events. Their statement says: “Christ Church Students’ Union does not permit what the guidance terms “problem initiations”, which involve dangerous, humiliating, degrading or abusive behaviour and are the opposite of the inclusive environment that our clubs and societies aspire to be.
“We recognise that clubs and societies may wish to hold welcome events to induct new students, and we encourage committees to make these events inclusive and fun. In order to ensure that these events are safe and welcoming, clubs and societies must notify us if they wish to hold a welcome event, and submit our welcome events form the week before the event.”
If you have been to a Welcome Event felt something was wrong, or felt unsafe yourself, talk to a member of the Student Union team. You can also fill out an anonymous reporting form: