Deaned!: Cambridge Discipline Uncovered, Part 2

We promised you the full files, and now, The Tab presents some of the strangest deanings Cambridge has ever seen: including hamsters, police dogs, a casino and plenty of vomit.

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In part one, The Tab explored the basics of Cambridge discipline. But which colleges have the biggest problems with bad behaviour? Today, we publish files gained under the Freedom of Information Act, from three of the worst-offending colleges – Churchill, Sidney and Clare.


As a Guardian columnist, and expert on post-colonialism, Dr Priya Gopal was probably unused to sexual advances from naked students.

But after taking over as Dean of Churchill, that’s exactly what she got in 2007.

In her annual report to the College Council, Gopal wrote about an evening ‘involving several very drunk students and alumni after a Rugby dinner, some of whom were running naked around college, and one of whom propositioned me’.

The incident is one of 91 recorded in the Dean’s reports, obtained exclusively by The Tab and published in full online. Taking group events into account, well over 100 individuals were involved.

‘The report does not reflect the entirety of incidents that have taken place, or suggest that only this many incidents occurred during the last academic year’, she said.

They cover a period of four years – between 2005-2008 (read the file), and 2009-2010 (read the file) – and some of the strangest deanings Cambridge has ever seen: including hamsters, police dogs, a casino and plenty of vomit.

‘Hamster and rabbit found in student’s room while student himself was away’

Churchill, March 2007

Like many other colleges, alcohol is cited as a major factor. The Bulldogs, a banned drinking society, are mentioned on numerous occasions.

In March 2008, they were involved in the booking of a ‘fake sports dinner’ in the name of University Lacrosse Club.

‘The result was extreme drunken behaviour, damage and fouling of the room and adjacent toilets’, says the report. Two alumni involved were banned from college.

An initiation ceremony involved ‘persons running naked around college’.

‘Female student extremely inebriated; fouls corridor’

Churchill, January 2008

Gopal also blames Pav, the weekly Churchill ent.

“I think we might be slightly more likely to be badly behaved in college”, admitted Alan Cruickshank, Churchill JCR president.

He added this was: “simply because of the great facilities and ents on offer.

“The consistent weekly turnout at Pav I think is probably proof.

“There are, of course, issues which come with Pav which are exactly what you might expect with an event of that size and sort.

“Students from other colleges sometimes cause trouble at Pav, but certainly in one case this was a group of guys from a central college slagging off Pav in a room of around a hundred drunk Churchillians, which by all accounts is a pretty stupid idea.”

In Michaelmas 2009, Trinity Hall students were caught throwing a bicycle into the college pond, but ‘were too drunk to be able to retrieve it’.

A Trinity student was also caught ‘making off with [a] college projector’.

‘Loud room party after hours with casino for 22 players’

Churchill, February 2007

Cruickshank blames the more serious incidents in the reports on “specific repeat offenders”.

In February, The Tab exclusively reported two serious incidents involving the same Churchill student.

In the first, third-year Christian Ruhr was assaulted with a bottle at Churchill Spring Ball.

Gopal came down hard on the offender: he was banned from the bar, slapped with a 10pm curfew, required to pay damages and costs as well undergoing ‘mandatory counselling’.

The next week, the same student was caught on the roof of college, and was MAULED by a police dog.

This Easter, he was summoned by the Dean for the FOURTH time: ‘To celebrate the lifting of the curfew, the offender got drunk with friends and smashed in a door, injuring himself in the process’.

Gopal recommended ‘he either be rusticated for a year or sent down permanently.’

‘Graduates at a whisky tasting evening refused Porter’s instruction to clear the room at closing time.  The organiser was found (drunk) urinating outside the Porter’s Lodge.’

Sidney, 15th March 2010

Sidney’s chronic problem with their bar is clear in their incident reports from 08/09 (read the file) and 09/10 (read the file). There were 112 cases over the two years, although not all of these resulted in deanings.

In one case a drunk student ‘vomited in room hand basin, left it running, which blocked and flooded the library below.  Prompt action by Porter prevented any major damage to books, fixtures, fittings and electrics.’

In another, a guest of a student urinated in the bar, and there have also been fights involving Fitz, Caius, Girton and Magdalene.

But perhaps the best record, on 6th January this year, was a fire in Hobson Yard, ‘caused by a vagrant burning pallets below student accommodation’. He was later charged with arson.

And files released by Clare (Click HERE to read the file) show the college recorded 43 incidents over the last five years, including rowdy Oxford students in town on a swap, an ‘innapropriate message’ left for a bedder, and second years causing ‘damage’ to a waitress’ clothing.

What do you think about the files? Let us know below…