Yes, we know. Joining a society in your first week at Uni is an important part of the ‘experience’. It’s just that some societies seem to attract idiots who seem to be intent on ruining the ‘experience’ for everyone else. Here are our five, well four, worst;
1. The Wyverns, Magdalene College, Cambridge University
This society has hit the headlines more than once over the past few years, for all the wrong reasons. In 2008 the male-only drinking club were threatened with disciplinary action after one of their end of term ‘jelly-wrestling’ competitions got out of hand. This contest, part of the society’s yearly ‘Suicide Sunday’ party, typically involved two bikini-clad women wrestling each other in a padded pool for a cash prize. Nadia Witkowski was arrested in ’08 for punching a spectator after losing to her opponent during the competition. ‘Suicide Sunday’ was banned from University property after the incident, but continued off-campus up until 2013. Fortunately, the ‘jelly-wrestling’ element was reportedly cancelled last year due to immense pressure from petitioning groups amidst claims of its misogynistic and sexist character.
2. The Wyverns (yes, again)
A year after the ‘jelly’ incident, the men’s drinking society made news once again, this time concerning its initiation ceremony at the beginning of term. In 2009 new members were reportedly required to eat a 15 course meal, one of which entailed swallowing a live goldfish, then regurgitating it. If the goldfish was still alive at this point, initiates would be exempt from 2 courses as their ‘reward’. Other concoctions included pints of unknown liquids mixed with food and spices, which new members had to drink 4 of in just 3 minutes. Initiates are kindly advised to participate in the ‘dinner’ shirtless, in order to protect their clothing from their own vomit (and that of their fellow freshers of course).
3. Conservative Society, University College London
We know the odds are stacked against this society being a great experience for anyone, remarkably though, the reality appears to be worse that anyone could imagine. Several allegations have been made involving this society, including formal complaints made by members about each other. Claims of ableist bullying, anti-Semitism and racism have been reported to the Students’ Union. Reports claim that the controversy stems from numerous sources including private Facebook messages, comments made in committee meetings, and conversations witnessed at society events. According to the tab.co.uk, The Students’ Union is currently investigating the case, and a disciplinary panel is expected.
4. Men’s Football Club, University of Exeter
Sports society initiations are particularly notorious in the UK, famed for their high-profile and elaborate drinking rituals. Following a tragic incident in 2006, The University of Exeter introduced a ban on initiations. This year the football ignored the ban and reached new heights of bizarre ritualistic practice. Initiates were made to kiss a dead conger eel (named Colin, in case you were wondering) and drink pints out of their shoes in one go. The social secretary was caught on camera shouting: “you’re all going to do exactly what I say", and much of the evening was shown publicly. Due to the University policy, representatives of the club have had to fiercely and categorically deny their antics, and prevent their society from facing serious disciplinary action.
5. Men’s Rugby Club, London School of Economics
Last but by no means least, here we have the most recent headline-grabbing society: the men’s rugby club at LSE. The club has now been disbanded by the University because their society leaflets, handed out over welcome week, contained homophobic and misogynistic content. The leaflet included descriptions of women as “slags", “mingers" and “trollops" and denounced “outright homosexual debauchery". Nona Buckley-Irvine, the students’ union president claimed that “a negative culture within the club... has existed for years". Further investigations have brought up claims that in the past the club has ‘blacked up’, imitated prayers as Muslim students left Friday prayers, been involved in Nazi themed drinking games, and significantly damaged university property.
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