‘They’re worried about a stain on their reputation’: Bristol Uni offers media advice to students

One medic described the email sent to them as an attempt to make sure they ‘don’t snitch’

Bristol Uni is offering media advice to medical students following the fallout from the Medic’s Spring Ball where students stole a statue, smashed tables and took cocaine in the bathrooms.

In an email to individual year groups, Faculty Manager Andrew Pearce told students “nobody should feel pressurised” into talking publicly about the ball and reminded them they could “ignore” requests to talk about what they witnessed.

However some medical students queried the motivation behind the email.

“I think the medical school are more worried about students saying something that will put a bigger stain on their reputation,” one student told The Bristol Tab. Another simply said: “It’s basically saying please don’t snitch”.

On Monday, The Bristol Tab revealed Bristol Uni medics were threatened with police action by the owners following the theft of a rare bronze sculpture at their Spring Ball in Grade-I listed Kings Weston House.

The students, who were described as “absolutely wired”, danced on top of an antique Italian sideboard, smashed three mahogany tables and ripped the hand dryers off the walls in the bathrooms.

Part-owner and Director, John Barbey, said he found remains of cocaine use in the bathrooms and said he was “dismayed” at the actions of the future doctors.

Yesterday afternoon, Faculty Manager, Andrew Pearce wrote to students to offer them media advice.

“We are aware that at least one journalist from a national newspaper is contacting students asking for eyewitness accounts to the events that took place at Kings Weston House during the Galenicals Spring Ball. The University press office has been in contact with the journalist and provided a formal statement.

“Whilst individual students must make their own decision about whether or not to speak to the press, nobody should feel pressurised into doing so and you are perfectly within your rights to ignore the request.”

One medical student told The Bristol Tab they could understand the university’s reasoning for sending the email.

“A big part of being a doctor is maintaining public trust in the professions and obviously journalism is one of the main sources of information available to the public,” they said.

“So whilst the medical school have no power to stop us from telling people what happened that night, it makes sense that they would like to minimise the spread of information because ultimately us medics come off quite poorly in the story and who knows what effect that could have on public trust.”

Another student agreed: “There’s already an article in The Daily Mail about it so I think the uni is worried about it getting out too much.”

Other students said that regardless of the university’s email, they were already reluctant to speak to the press because of how they are regulated by the General Medical Council.

An investigation has been opened by the faculty to review what happened at Kings Weston House, with the medic society banned from having events there in the future.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “This was a factual, informative email telling students that a national news reporter could be approaching them – something which has probably never happened to them before.

“The email simply states that they should make up their own minds if they want to engage and should not feel pressurised into responding if they don’t want to.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘Vandalism, theft and drug taking’: Inside the Medic ball that descended into chaos

Bristol Uni November graduations: A conscious snub to our international students

Bristol Uni hails ‘immense commitment of staff to support’ student prior to her suicide