It’s Freshers’ Week as we write and you’re probably having too good a time right now to be reading this blog post! You’ll be busy getting to know your new roomies, meeting your course mates, and getting to know other Freshers through the myriad of both official and unofficial Freshers’ activities.
However, for some students, Freshers’ Week isn’t fun, and neither are the weeks that follow it. We’re not talking about introverts today (although many of you will probably have been dreading Freshers Week for months!), but we’re talking instead about events that sometimes take place, called ‘initiations’.
What are initiations?
Initiations are ceremonies that take place on welcome nights at university, often organised by clubs and societies. They are banned by most universities (due to the potential dangers involved) but secretly take place anyway. They are particularly prevalent amongst sports teams and clubs.
Initiations can involve enforced heavy drinking, alongside all manner of other dares and forfeits. Many are degrading or dangerous, and some are potentially deadly.
- Being forced to eat very hot chillies, leading to hospitalisation
- Being made to drink until you vomit, then being expected to continue drinking
- Being made to consume drinks mixed with dog food and live goldfish
- Being dressed up by others in a derogatory manner
- Being forced to wrestle naked in vomit
- Being forced to climb tall buildings or bridges
- Having your hair shaved off
Why would I join in with initiations?
Peer pressure is real. You might have thought you left it behind when you finished school or college, but no — it can, unfortunately, exist at university and beyond. Of course, some people are more susceptible to it than others, but anyone can be at risk.
During Freshers’ Week and throughout the first few weeks and months of uni life, you’ll no doubt find yourself trying lots of new activities through various clubs and societies.
Overall, you’re likely to have a blast. However, it’s essential to keep your wits about you, and that is why we’re writing this blog post.
When meeting new people, especially in a group setting, people often feel under pressure to both fit in and impress. Occasionally, this is taken advantage of, and you will be dared to do things you don’t want to do. Or, perhaps you do want to do them, but they’re not really in your best interests.
How do I get out of an initiation?
Ideally, if you’re invited to an initiation ceremony, you should report it to your university and not attend. However, because they’re banned, initiations often take place under the guise of ‘welcome drinks’, which sounds reasonably innocent.
We’re not here to tell you what to do and what not to do, but we want to remind you that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Being forced to do something you don’t want to do is coercion.
Even if you’re being asked to do something in front of a group of 40 people, you can say no. Yes, you may be ribbed for a while, but it should all be in good spirits, and they’ll soon get over it and move on.
If things turn malicious, you are given an unpleasant forfeit or told you cannot join the team you wanted to join; it is time to leave. Do not put yourself in any situation where you feel uncomfortable. Th would need reporting to someone at the university union as soon as you can.
When initiations go wrong
We’re talking about this topic because university initiations are sadly unofficial and therefore ‘underground’ and hard to control. However, we are all too aware of them at Pickard Properties because we have seen and heard of many tenants fall foul of them over the years.
Being asked to drink a certain number of drinks in quick succession to join a club may seem innocent enough, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. While the intentions may not be malicious, the result can be life-changing.
Newcastle University student, Ed Farmer, died in 2016 following a night out with an agricultural society. During this initiation event, the group is known to have ordered 100 triple shots from the bar in one round. Of course, further drinks were also involved.
Farmer was taken back to a fellow student’s house when it was clear he was too drunk to continue, but his condition declined, and he ended up passing away from a shortage of oxygen to the brain.
Please don’t let this happen to yourself or your friends. Sure, enjoy a few drinks, but don’t drink to excess.
If you’re on an ‘initiation’ night out and see someone being pressured to drink or act in a way that makes them uncomfortable, please step in and say something. Look after each other.
If you’d like to find out more about all things university, take a look at our student blog today.