The University of Lincoln Students’ Union (SU) says it will work to improve its policy on initiation ceremonies after the launch of new national guidance on the issue which contradicts its own.

Initiation ceremonies are currently banned by the SU. Photo: Flickr/Ray Wewerka.

Universities UK, the national body representing vice-chancellors across the country, issued new guidance on the ceremonies yesterday following the death of a Newcastle University student in 2016.

The ceremonies involve students being asked to perform tasks at welcome events to gain credibility within a society – and led to the death of Ed Farmer three years ago after he drank an excessive amount of alcohol.

The new guidance, published in collaboration with Newcastle University, calls for an end to the zero-tolerance approach on initiation ceremonies which it says is “unhelpful as it implies initiations do not happen.”

That proposal directly contradicts the current policy of the SU, which currently reads: “The SU has a zero tolerance approach to ensuring that Initiation Ceremonies (aka hazing) do not take place, to ensure the safety of its members.

“It is also a requirement of the SU’s affiliation with BUCS (British Universities and College Sports) that every institution who participates has a zero tolerance approach to initiations.”

A spokesperson for the SU said that they ‘welcome the new guidance’ and added: “We will work with the University to see where we can improve our charter and guidance to our members to ensure that our members understand the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and such ceremonies.”

Lincoln Students' Union (SU)
The SU says it will work to improve its current policy. Photo: The Linc.

In a foreword to yesterday’s guidance, the parents of Ed Farmer, Jeremy and Helen, write: “If students were made aware of the dangers of drinking large volumes of spirits in short periods of time, and maybe aware of the signs of someone that is no longer just drunk but in a life-limiting state and use the example of Ed to give the message some relevance, then possibly just one student might be luckier on a night out than Ed.”

An SU spokesperson added: “Lincoln Students’ Union Code of Conduct, which is brought to the attention of every member of the SU, has clear expectations around Initiation ceremonies and Social events.

“Any breach of the Student Charter is referred to through the Students Union Disciplinary process and disciplinary action has been taken against clubs that have breached these rules.”

The SU’s Student Charter can be found here.