Deaned!: Cambridge Discipline Uncovered, Part 1

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How transparent is college and University discipline? Not very, as it turns out. In the first of a two-part series, we explore how the system works, and how YOU have been dealt with.

How transparent is college and University discipline? Not very, as it turns out. But after a month-long investigation, The Tab has gained exclusive access to hundreds of previously unseen cases. They contain a fascinating insight into the misdeeds of staff and students – the crimes, the punishments, and the startling differences between how colleges deal with cases. In the first of a two-part series, we explore how the system works, and how YOU have been dealt with.


We submitted Freedom of Information requests to the University, as well as all 31 colleges. Of those, 29 replied, with 22 providing files of varying detail.

Alcohol is mentioned as a major factor in over half of cases, and students have been deaned for everything from blue-tack use to racist abuse.

In most cases, students are referred to the Dean of College, who deals with the matter internally. This means punishments are rarely standardised. A University spokesman yesterday refused to confirm whether there were ANY guidelines on college punishments.

It is a misconception that only a University court can send a student down. In exceptional cases, the Dean may consult a disciplinary board, which is entitled to take more serious action.

“A friend of mine was once deaned for standing naked, with a girl who was also naked, kissing her in front of the bedroom window which just so happened to be fully visible to a meeting of Cambridge City Council taking place in the building opposite.

“The shocked members of the board wasted no time in sending an outraged complaint to the college Dean, no doubt in righteous indignation of such a public display, and for some of them perhaps also in that state of speechless disorientation that naturally results from seeing an unwithered pair of breasts for the first time in several years.”

Ben, Kings, third-year

Last week, a Queens’ student was forced to degrade by college for assaulting a fresher at a bop.

The second-year reportedly attacked the fresher after being threatened with a flip flop. The victim required hospital treatment, and his attacker spent the night in police custody.

One friend helpfully added to his Facebook page: ‘Hate to bring this up but you still have ‘Cambridge 2012’ listed as a network.’

The most common punishment, however, is a fine. Murray Edwards are one of the few colleges to adopt a standardised system – a flat fee of £50 for ‘minor misconduct’. Others, like Clare, base their fines on the damage done: from £14 for a cleaning bill, to £120 for a new carpet.

But there are other options in minor cases. Community service has become an increasingly popular option for Deans. Some resort to even more inventive methods: students at Sidney Sussex often have to polish the college silver, and at Robinson, one third-year historian became a bedder for freshers’ week.

The trend for uneven punishments also continues in what constitutes a deanable offence. Homerton reported 45 incidents in the last five years, one of the highest on record.

But students at the college were fined for a number of seemingly trivial offences, including ‘use of blue-tack in college bedroom’, and ‘tampering with flower beds’.

However, there were also some more serious cases: one student was forced to leave college over alleged racist abuse.

And three weeks ago, a fresher was nearly sent down after trying to tip a vending machine onto another student’s head.

“It was probably the quickest deaning on record”, he admitted to The Tab.

Alcohol abuse features heavily in most reports. It is often cited in combination with a breach of noise curfews.

In one incident last year, seven Girton third-years were kicked out of a college house after exams, for repeated damage to the property.

After stealing a college statue, and holding a series of house parties, the group were exiled when initiations on Caesarian Sunday resulted in extensive damage to the house.

“Everyone was kicked out of the house immediately after exams and the ones involved are not allowed to live in college this year”, said one of those involved.

Andrew Jeffries, Girton Senior Tutor, called the behaviour of college drinking societies “abhorrent”, and said the college would deal “severely” with those caught damaging property.

Something to Hide?

Whilst most colleges responded to The Tab’s request, some were not so accommodating. Many colleges, like Corpus and Catz, keep no official record of student discipline, and provided information on an ad hoc basis.

Along with Fitz, Peterhouse, Queens and St. John’s, they argued compiling the information would cost more than £450, the limit of the Act.

Jesus were the only college to argue staff and students’ privacy would be compromised, despite our request for the data to be anonymous.

Bad behaviour is just not restricted to students: 27 staff members have been reprimanded at Pembroke in the last five years, with 22 at Emma.

Offences at the colleges included repeated absence, health and safety violations and aggressive behaviour.

Cauis have sacked ten staff for gross misconduct over the same period, while Corpus have eight written warnings on file for just the past six months.

Next week, we’ll be revealing the worst-behaved colleges in full detail – and posting the files online for you to read.

  • lawyer

    How can it possibly cost more than £450 to compile the sorts of evidence required to document the few – and it obviously is "few" if "45 in 5 years by Homerton is one of the highest numbers of incidents – cases of dean's punishments and cases?!?! Utterly ridiculous bullshit: it's time the colleges in question had a freedom of information caselaw shoved up their jacksides!

    • Pilsbury Trumpington

      This is deliciously saucy, enjoyed with my Breakfast.

      Sir Pilsbury Trumpington

    • Hitch

      Girls probably don't warm to you

  • Jesus

    Of course Jesus aren't cooperating. Our new Dean hands out arbitrary punishments seemingly willy-nilly. One memorable case in my first year involved a bunch of us being deaned for attending someone else's party and the criterion for who got called to see him was 'people who the porters could remember seeing there'. Hardly 'blind justice'

    • The Virgin Mary

      Jesus, you always were such a naughty boy.

      • the slag mary

        Don't pretend you're a virgin, mary. I slammed you yesterday. Not for the first time I must add.

        • Magdalene Angus

          I got deaned for drinking loads then was a bit sick all over my loafers in first court. Not only was this really unfair I also had to throw away my shoes!!!!!!!

          • d shone

            Its nice though, because you got to buy new shoes and that made you really happy!!!

            • Seb Dunnett

              I got deaned for getting my bahls out and being a lad

            • Magdalene Angus

              So true shone-boy but they lacked that vintage edge I had been working so hard for. Dolce and Gabanna once famously said, 'One pair of vintage shoes is worth a trunk full of new shoes.'

              • Anonymous?

                Why have you decided to grant all students anonymity, except for the mentioned Queens' second year? You even wrote, in defence of compromising students' privacy, that you requested for the data to be anonymous. Your double standards are ridiculous.

                • Schwef-Dog

                  I got deaned for having rampant sex on the library roof, even though we used a condom

                  • anne o'brien

                    me too! what a coincidence. i only went up for a bit of star-gazing as well..

                • they are journos

                  Because that was in the news anyway. Why bother keeping it anonymous when we already knew? Got reported ages ago… However, all the goss the Tab doesn't know – if keeping the colleges sweet to tell means being anonymous, that's fine.

                  • I think

                    it wasn't in the tab

              • shipmate

                so true angus. looking forward to your fashion blog!

          • Maybe from Varsity

            Assault, racist abuse and questionable spelling more like it. The image linking to this story on the front page, Tab. Tut tut.

            • tab totty

              Fuck off varsity, I use you paper to wipe my arse these days its so dull.

              • bored

                What does "forced to degrade by college" mean?

                • Tommy Palacios

                  I got Deaned for having massive chat, and being the biggest drinker in Cambridge. My fine was to down two pints in 5seconds, did it in 3!

                  • bemused

                    Such originality! Did you think of that all by yourself?

                    • Tommy Palacios

                      What do you mean? I'd like to see you try that, it's difficult for most people but not me.

                • Rachel

                  It's a shame Catz haven't replied, it's not as if all our deans notives of punishment aren't all displaced for a month or so for all to see, and some of them are hilarious…

                • help?

                  Put back to first year. Repeating a year. Basically, shame.

                  • Your mum

                    Repeat second year, moron

              • ditto

                Glad to see it's put to good use.

              • Mmm?

                I enjoyed you getting your arse ripped to bloody shreds in the union over Tab Totty, as it happens.

  • Ricky Egg

    Hey guys, I have never been deaned before (well, I'm only a fresher, to have been deaned within a few weeks would have been quite naughty of me! lolollo!) and I've heard that's it's a really scary and bad position to be in, is this true? I don't think I'm the sort of guy who will do anything to get into a massive amount of trouble, although I am known for being a bit of a crazy kid sometimes! I slapped my friend's bum once after i had a couple of VK's on a night out rofl! I take it that's not the sort of thing I can deaned for is it? Just a little worried that is all. And I don't want to upset any of ny new friends on the rowing team, don't want to let them down! They rock!

    Would be great if someone could get back to me,

    Still loving Cambridge! 😛

    R – x

    • David Dunn


    • Homerton June Event

      Please keep this up. These are great.

  • Petrean

    I'm not surprised Peterhouse say's it would cost more than £450… In Easter Term 2009 they gowned (a Peterhouse oddity, we have gownings not deanings) about 50 people in one go… Just compiling that information would probably cost them a fortune…

    • Give a shit

      Wow, that's like everyone who gives a shit about Peterhouse 50 times over

  • Gareth Edwards

    [youtube ggB33d0BLcY youtube]

    I can see what you mean, but does this not change your view?

  • Max S

    This article was a massive anticlimax.

    • max's mum's toyboy

      i was gonna say "so was your mum"…
      but then i realised we both climaxed last night.

      btw you might want to throw away your toothbrush – you don't want to know where that went.

    • Xander

      I got deaned once. I knocked out one of the porters for telling me I was too loud, then they sent all the coppers down. So I was left with no alternative, but to knock them all out with one punch. The dean tried to give me a £50 fine. I told him to fuck off, or I'd knock him out. He let me off. Knocked him out anyway.

      • Xander's nephews dad

        I'll knock you out and shove your ken-do stick down your throat, like my dong down your sister, you twisted beardy bastard!


  • Nav Dogz

    Huh, can you be deaned for being too much of a big name?! I sure hope not!

  • Corpus Student

    Corpus make students polish silver and brass at 7am for a week or two for seemingly trivial misdemeanours – failing to reply to emails, being rude to staff, etc.

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