Oct 022008

Today (perhaps because this week is widely the start of the term/semester for new students), the news has been reveling in stories of truely extreme initiation ceremonies for students wanting to join sporting clubs at Universities. I am not sure why they are concentrating on the sports … although I remember from my student days that the Rugy Club were terrifying drinkers, and that was just the women!

There has been many comments in favour and against these initiations. As some deaths have been caused because of these initiations, there is some need for concern.

I can hardly criticise students for consuming alcohol in large quantities … that would be more than a little hypocritical. But these students organising the initiations should reconsider using alchohol as part of the ceremony.

Firstly there is the danger that things could get out of control and become dangerous. Frankly drinking to the point where vomiting is inevitable is pretty dumb and can lead to dangerous situations. I personally would not like to take part in an initiation where humiliation was involved, but that is just me and as long as it is not taken to excess, why not?

Secondly by making alcohol and excessive drinking part of the initiation, they are excluding those who for a variety of reasons may not be able to drink or who may not wish to drink excessively. That does not mean they would not be able to be good members of a sporting club!

Why would someone not want to get involved in drinking ? Well a variety of reasons :-

  • Religion. Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol, and other religions may also have similar restrictions.
  • Health. Some people are actually allergic to alcohol and can have pretty serious reactions to drinking. Some others may have conditions that drinking makes worse (like psoriasis), or may simply be particularly keen on a healthy lifestyle … we are to some extent talking about sports clubs!
  • Bad experiences. Not every drinking session ends pleasurably; anyone who has had a bad experience will at least think about “never again”, and why should they be excluded from certain clubs? Particularly as most will probably be back on the demon drink within weeks.

Lastly, doesn’t drinking make these initiations just a little too easy ? It is one thing to stand naked in a very cold sea when you are almost unconscious from stupendous amounts of alcohol, but think about how much more challenging it is to do it sober!

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