The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Cambridge Master scolds student bullies for “sadistic initiation rites”

A University of Cambridge don has attacked “laddish” undergraduate students after the college’s Freshers week initiation ceremonies this past month


The Master of Gonville & Caius College at the University of Cambridge has sent out an outraged e-mail to students following the annual ‘army pub crawl’ held two weeks ago.

The e-mail, sent by Professor Sir Alan Fersht, a 72-year-old don at the University of Cambridge, demands that behaviour such as that he witnessed on CCTV at the pub crawl be “nipped in the bud.”

Fersht described the event as “a national scandal of students drinking irresponsibly, indulging in laddish behaviour and sadistic initiation rites, and men plying women with drink and abusing them.”

Foremost on the Don’s list of grievances was older student’s “bullying” first years into drinking, which he claimed to have witnessed on the university’s CCTV system. Bystanders are just as much at fault in Fersht’s book for not attempting to stop the events.

“I fear that these bullies,” Fersht explains, “will leave the College and become unethical pariahs like insider traders, exchange rate riggers and corrupt Volkswagen engineers.”

The Professor’s duties are first and foremost to monitor the welfare of the student body. Behaviour such as this, he fears, are becoming far too common, and pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of his students.

Fersht cites how “incapacitated students were dumped on other students’ floors without any regard to the consequences that there could have been a fatality because of inhalation of vomit.”

Alcohol-fuelled “initiations” such as these are, as Fersht states “deeply rooted” in universities throughout the UK. This incident is far from the first in Cambridge’s track record of such behavior.

An ex-Cambridge student described to The Mancunion how, as a first year, “you would get ‘parents’ who would be two second years and they would get you drunk.”

The colleges would also host “swap” events, she tells us, where a small group of females from one college organise a night with a same-sized group of males from another college. All attendees were required to bring a bottle of wine to the event.

“The same thing for societies as well; the Natural Science society took us to the Mahal [restaurant] and you take wine and play drinking games all night.”

Cambridge also made headlines this past summer when 2,000 undergraduate students took to a city centre park “Caesarian style” and engaged in drinking games while stripping off clothing.

The don concluded his e-mail imploring students to “not indulge in irresponsible drinking but take advantage of all the academic, social, sporting and cultural activities that make up our unique environment and will shape your future lives.”

In the meantime, the college’s “Fresher’s bop” has been cancelled. Fersht also has encouraged the pub crawl’s leaders to right their misdeeds “by writing letters of apology to your victims and by discussing the events with your Tutors.”