JOHN’S BOYS EXPOSED: “Fine if you’ve tried having sex with a passed out girl”

Accusations of an “old school, elitist Cambridge” culture are rocking the college

| UPDATED Cambirgde university swap Cambridge classism drinking society Drunk elitism fine fines girl Girls johns Lad lad culture Lads misogyny racism Scandal sesame Sex St John's College Swap swaps the tab The Tab Cambridge

That St John’s is the Cambridge college most besotted with tradition is usually a light-hearted joke. Their fellows are, for instance, the only people outside the Royal Family legally allowed to eat unmarked mute swans. However, accusations of a more sinister side to this “old school” culture have recently been shaking the College.

After an extensive investigation and speaking to the College administration, The Tab can exclusively reveal:

  • Extreme behaviour of certain members on swaps, in as well as around John’s, with accusations that they are making “women and other minorities feel unsafe”.
  • The situation is being taken “very seriously” by the College authorities.
  • The accusations relate to members of the college’s drinking societies – which are banned under the College’s alcohol policy.
  • The Tab has spoken with several women from different colleges who have been on swaps with different drinking societies at John’s.
  • They revealed a string of misogynistic fines, classist and racist comments and complained of the “lad culture” experienced during those swaps.
  • These accusations were repeated at the recent JCR elections at which an “old school, elitist Cambridge” came under attack.

Power Rangers.

There are several drinking societies at the college and all appear to actively embrace John’s negative elitist image.

Earlier this Michaelmas, one such informal society, consisting of second-year boys, made havoc on a swap at Sesame, where they smashed up the toilet sink in a downstairs bathroom.

One woman interviewed by The Tab revealed some of the comments made by members of the drinking society, including:

“Stand up if your favourite type of girl is asleep”

“Stand up if you’ve ever racially abused someone because they wouldn’t get with you”

“Stand up if you hate the poor”

“Stand up if you could buy this entire restaurant with your ring”

Other sources in John’s told The Tab that they heard comments such as “fine if you’ve tried having sex with a passed out girl” and “fine if you’ve recorded someone giving you a blowjob”.

One female student who went on a swap with this group of boys reported: “They didn’t even ask our names, they looked at us like they thought we were shit. They had no civilised conversation. It was literally like a contrived thing where they aimed to go and be misogynistic, vile and take advantage.”

Sesame, a famous Cambridge swap venue.

One girl who went on a swap with a different drinking society at John’s said: “They were really aggressive. They were all quite big and were really rowdy but not in a fun way. In a really intimidating way. They definitely called more than one of the girls fat.

“I guess lots of drinking societies are rowdy but they were especially bad.”

The Bridge of Sighs. Sigh.

A restaurant worker at one the regular swap venues for drinking societies told us:“John’s boys have always been the ones who have broken stuff. Jesus boys are rowdy, but John’s boys are destructive.”

“John’s boys are dickheads. When you put one boy in a room of dickheads, they will end up becoming a dickhead.”

The worker thought the behaviour “completely unacceptable” but refused to comment on whether these particular drinking societies would be banned from their premises in the future.

Cantabs on a swap, from The Tab’s archives.

A spokesperson from the college told us: “The College is already aware of and investigating allegations about the involvement of a small number of students in drinking societies. Drinking societies are, of course, banned under the College’s alcohol policy, so, if these turn out to be true, disciplinary action will follow.

“The nature of such action will depend on the circumstances, as the College deals with all disciplinary matters on a case-by-case basis.”

The spokesperson was keen to stress that the college would be taking behaviour like this “very seriously”, and that such conduct was only perpetrated by “a small handful of people”.

A student from John’s told The Tab: “It’s a real shame that reputation of John’s is being tarnished by the loudest few. It’s important that they are scrutinised, uprooted, and exposed, but we should not equate these lads with the whole college culture. They hold, and what’s worst boast, a disrespectful mindset that is damaging and needs to end.”

Caesarian Sunday: every drinking soc’s favourite day of the year. (Photo from the archives and unrelated to the investigation.)

Rowan Douglas, a student at Clare who founded Cambridge for Consent, said this behaviour “is typical of an attitude so prevalent at Cambridge, an attitude which reveals an astounding disregard and disrespect for women”.

“Such disrespect is a cornerstone of patriarchal lad culture and the hyper-masculinity encouraged by events such as these is damaging not only to women and non-binary individuals, but to men as well.”

Frustration and anger over John’s drinking societies look unlikely to subside soon – in a recent JCR hustings, one student voiced a concern that Johns’ drinking societies are making “women and other minorities feel unsafe”.

The Tab is following developments.