The lowdown on university initiations

It’s that time of the year when the university sports teams get going and prepare for their first fixture. That means that the first years will be going through initiations in order to prove themselves to the team. Except they won’t be. The Students’ Union has banned them.

To find out why, The Linc spoke to Joe Burt, VP for activities. He said:

“It’s due to equal rights, in case anyone doesn’t drink. We don’t want people to say ‘you can only be part of this if you do the initiation’. It’s not fair at all.”

Burt did insist that this wasn’t all about drinking, but about anything that isn’t a direct exercise for the team itself. Therefore running around Lincoln naked for an initiation is also banned. Even if you do think it’ll help your football team.

When asked about the various sports that probably still do initiations, albeit a bit more subtly, Burt said:

“We’ve told everyone we have a really strong policy on this, and if someone broke this we could take disciplinary action.”

Burt couldn’t say what action the student union could take against a team that broke this rule, as it would depend on the offence, but he did confirm that should a team undertake illegal activity for their initiation, it’d be possible that the team would find itself banned and the people in question expelled.

Burt also explained how he does keep close contact with the rugby teams of Lincoln. Rugby teams are notorious around the country for having the most extreme socials and initiations, but Joe said he wanted to break the stigma of the rugby team, which is why he keeps contact with them.

Some people who are for initiations say that they help with the team bonding as the shared experience will make them friends. Burt was insistent that you didn’t need an initiation to bond, calling upon his experience as the president of the surfing society. He said that the bonding could come from “bowling or the actual activity” itself.

One thing was for sure from this interview and that was initiations will stay banned. But what do other universities do on this subject?

Well, the National Union of Students (NUS) has called for an outright ban by every student union to ban initiations after it launched an investigation into them after the death of Exeter student Gavin Britton. Some of the universities that agreed were Newcastle, Sussex, and Southampton.

Action has been taken at some universities. Nottingham has banned their rugby team from the varsity due to an initiation that saw students defecate in a sink.

Initiations remain a hotly debated topic among universities and whichever stance you choose to take, it’s a topic which is not going to disappear any time soon.

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