Initiation gets a little messy? Tough – life gets a little messy

‘Welcome drinks’ are fun, a force for good and exist because we run this university, not the detached policy makers driven mad by power and political correctness


We all know the concept of initiations has been on shaky ground recently with the university’s blanket ban imposed a couple of years ago and more recently the introduction of highly punitive fines.

So, in pragmatic student fashion, the time-honoured tradition has been replaced by ‘welcome drinks’ – an ill-fitting name for a ritual which is, on the surface, anything but welcoming.

As far as I’m concerned the negative opinion of the initiation ritual from the media is mistaken, when for the most part they exist as harmless fun.

Humiliating or harmless character-building – I know where I stand

As an uninitiated member of a club and with my ‘welcome drinks’ fast approaching, I’ll probably regret my over-confident bravado – but I’m not about to go crying to Mummy about it.

Initiations are messy and they do get out of hand, with excessive alcohol consumed and tasks completed that you would normally never dream of doing – but they have never ceased to be fun.

It’s something we all go through in order to become a fully-fledged member of a club and they aren’t arbitrary; they exist as a natural part of the hierarchy.

In a club, as in life, respect has to be earned – whether this has to be done by playing naked rugby with a frozen chicken or not.

Chair of the DU Disciplinary Committee AKA Hypochondriac in Chief and Fun Police Commissioner

Past initiations haven’t stopped second and third years from inflicting similar challenges on the younger members of their club in following years and if students were really opposed to the idea they would have been stopped a long time ago.

Instead they are hailed as one of the best nights of the year, in spite of their savage reputation.

The pro-initiation lobby normally, and quite rightly, resorts to the “What could possibly be a better bonding experience with your club than initiations?” or “Who else can you share the unspeakable acts of that night with and still laugh about it all?” when forced to defend themselves from the rantings of politically correct and socially incapable lunatics.

But there’s more to it than that.

Punishing one of the Universities most valuable and prized assets – it’s sporting excellence and pride. Good plan.

It needs to be recognised that drinking is a part of university life – building team spirit and getting involved with a close-knit group may get a bit messy and involve having a crazy night. University is a time we can let go and live one or two ridiculous stories you’ll be telling for years to come.

The university authorities are naïve if they believe that hierarchy and exclusivity don’t exist in that big, bad world of golden employment that’s waiting for us and it’s foolish of them to try and impress upon us that we shouldn’t occasionally have to do things we might not want to do, to get where we want to be.

If your initiation gets a little messy, tough shit, life gets a little messy – down it, do it and move on up.

Which, coincidentally, is what the university should do too. Initiations aren’t new and it’s about time that they accepted Durham students wouldn’t still be downing that shit-mix, playing with dead animals and getting our kit off – if we didn’t bloody love it.

The continuation of ‘welcome drinks’ and the annual defiance of another pointless university policy is yet another sign of where the real power in Durham lies – with the students.

Before continuing to embarrass themselves and once again over zealously punishing the sports clubs,  societies and college teams that define Durham – the university would do well to check itself, before it wrecks itself.

And yes, I did just quote Ice Cube in a piece of journalism. Get over it.