The University and students have expressed disapproval of hazing and extreme drinking culture in clubs.
A University of Exeter spokesperson says, “Initiation ceremonies at Exeter were banned in 2007 following the tragic death of an individual student.”
Initiation ceremonies at Exeter were banned in 2007 following the tragic death of an individual student.”
An anonymous student has spoken out about their experience with initiations in Freshers Week 2021. They stated: “For football, socials are still going ahead. The club know that the word initiation is banned but they’re still pretty much the same as previously. Anyone who throws up does so in a bin in the middle in front of everyone. They don’t last too long and honestly make a good sense of camaraderie. Almost everyone finds them a positive experience. Tennis and lacrosse were a lot more relaxed. There was absolutely no being made to drink.”
In the past, initiations have included swallowing vomit and other bodily fluids, consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol and attempts to humiliate students. According to the University, “the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) governing body also take a zero tolerance approach to problem initiations.” A third year law student cites initiations as a cause of her decision to leave Exeter University Fencing Club: “Most third year students that don’t back the initiations end up leaving their clubs by their final year. Either you fit in with the culture or you cut ties and leave. I would like to clarify that although I know initiations are still happening to some extent, they are on a spectrum. I’m 100 per cent sure they’re still being done in women’s rugby and football.”
Since becoming less involved with sport at Exeter, she has not witnessed any initiations taking place: “Once you exit that environment, it’s hush hush.” Another student says that during their time as a member of Cricket Club, they witnessed drinking games, but no sort of hazing. Some sports clubs actively avoid any form of initiation activity altogether. Ben Coxon, the 2020-2021 Welfare Secretary of Canoe Club, says, “Initiations are simply not compatible with our ethos. I’ve attended many sports societies at Exeter, and have not once been asked to do an initiation. I think women’s is worse than men’s now. Women’s doesn’t get policed. What I mean is: if men’s rugby was to do initiations, they’d get closed down.” Ben also mentions swimming, triathlon and rugby league as sports which, in his experience, don’t have a “toxic” drinking culture.
Some sport clubs actively avoid any form of initiation activity altogether.”
An anonymous student, who plays women’s rugby, had a positive initiation experience with Exeter University Women’s Rugby Club during Freshers week: “We went to a festival and the only type of initiation was a naked run which we could choose to get involved in and how much we would wear. Some people didn’t want to do it and that was absolutely fine. Our comfort was made to be the main concern which was really nice! You don’t even have to drink at our socials. It’s all about inclusivity and having fun which I think is quite unique for a rugby team. Most people do drink at socials, but there’s a good number of girls who go out sober and that’s never a problem. Our coach is really strict and wants to distance us from men’s rugby. She wants our club to be really inclusive and friendly so distancing us from the reputation of the men shows rugby can be a really welcoming and fun club to be a part of, without having to do stuff that makes you uncomfortable. I know that sometimes the purpose of other clubs’ initiations is to humiliate or make the members throw up from how much they’ve had to drink which is pretty harmful.”
A University of Exeter spokesperson says: “Through both their BUCS membership and our Athletic Union Code of Conduct Drinking Policy, we expect all individuals to meet the expected standards and any breaches can, and do, result in disciplinary action. Anyone who has concerns about this issue can contact our Director of Sport Alison Davidson confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org or report anonymously on the BUCS website: https://www.bucs.org.uk/report-an-initiation.html”