March of the Penguins

An entire Oxford drinking society has been suspended from Hertford College over their email list of “fresher fitties”.

drinking society Hertford Penguin Suspended

The members of an Oxford Drinking Society have been suspended en masse this week over a leaked email thread.

Hertford College got hold of the emails which listed the fit female freshers the boys planned to invite to a crewdate (Oxford’s version of a swap). 

After the crewdate went ahead successfully (with the girls organising a repeat date for the following term), someone hacked into one of their computers and plastered the content of the emails on posters across Hertford. 

In an inexplicable over-reaction, the college suspended all 15 drinking society members included on the thread without charge, even those who had not contributed. 

It is understood that at least 8 those suspended were finalists – under the terms of the suspension they are banned from tutorials (aka supervisions), using the college library and have been made to vacate their rooms.

It remains unclear if they will be allowed to sit their exams next term.

One college official told The Tab, "I can confirm that we are investigating possible breaches of our disciplinary code and that a number of undergraduates have been suspended whilst that process takes its course."

The Dean of Hertford College has also laid into the whistleblower who put the posters up saying that their actions went “well beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour, even in jest”. 

“Now is a good time for all to reflect on the privilege of College membership and focus on the main purpose of being at Oxford.” 

The list, which was sent in a private email thread between Hertford College’s Penguin society’s members, has attracted criticism from the college’s female welfare officer for being sexist and predatory.

However, there has been considerable confusion across Oxford over why such behaviour has been punished so harshly by the disciplinary powers at Hertford. The last time the college suspended a student they had headbutted someone so hard that they were put into a coma, but their suspension only lasted one day.

Will Ford, a second year undergrad from Oxford, exclusively told The Tab that “It’s definitely an overreaction; no-one really gets what the big fuss is about – it’s not as if conversations like that don’t happen in every college”

Laura Winwood, a Hertford student explained, “As it stands we have not yet been officially informed by college as to the events that took place nor the basis for their decision to take disciplinary action”

It is rumoured that the worst the 15 can be found guilty of is misuse of their internet connection. Oxford’s rules stipulate a breach of this kind includes using the internet for anything other than work purposes – including going on Facebook or using Spotify. 

Students at the college have been told that their bar will be closed for the foreseeable future as both the bar manager and treasurer are members of the Penguins. In effect this punishes the whole college as well.

The Penguins, a newly formed Oxford Drinking Society with trademark maroon ties, have already acquired quite a reputation within Oxford

With initiations that include swimming in the Cherwell, eating raw squid and running around Oxford naked, the society has caused anger throughout the college both for giving the members of the JCR a bad reputation for  ‘Bullingdon-eque’ antics.

One student who watched the group’s initiations said "They had to dismember a squid. Someone who failed had to eat half of one. Bits of squid ended up back in college and there was lots of vomit everywhere." 

The incident has called into question comparisons between Oxford’s underground drinking society scene and Cambridge’s open obsession with the groups.

One undergrad, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Tab how this sort of behaviour “goes on all the time at Cambridge. It’s inherent to the way in which drinking society’s work; who’s going to be invited out on which swap, who’s going to be initiated in which drinking society”

A third year student from St John’s said “can you imagine what would happen to most undergraduates if their college got hold of private drinking society threads. What they wrote looks fairly tame to be honest!”