Initiations are Banned

The Students' Union offers a wide variety of Societies and Clubs and being a member can help you make friends with other students with similar interests, enjoy regular activities and enhance your student experience.  If you are an organiser or member of a society or club however, you should note that the University expects you to adhere to all rules and regulations, including a ban on initiation ceremonies.

Some may argue that initiations are traditional and build team cohesion, however, there are more negative points than positive, including:

•     People have died

•     Encourages binge drinking and bullying

•     Dangers of drinking excessively

•     Offending other people

•     Involves peer pressure

•     Affects the University and student reputation

Examples of responsibility for initiation ceremonies that could amount to misconduct include (but are not restricted to) the following:

  • A requirement or clear expectation of participants to behave in a way that is likely to be construed as misconduct. This includes a requirement or clear expectation of behaviour that would bring the University into disrepute.
  • A requirement or clear expectation of participants to behave in a way that might reasonably be perceived as humiliating, demeaning or degrading. This includes cutting of hair and, in some circumstances, dressing in a particular manner (especially if intended to be demeaning).
  • A requirement or clear expectation of participants to drink alcohol or to take other substances (illegal or otherwise). This includes a requirement or clear expectation of eating specific food items.

It should also be noted that willing participants in initiation ceremonies could also be subject to the disciplinary procedures for their involvement in a ritual that has been banned by the University. 


Media articles about deaths caused by initiations:

'One initiation victim (...) choked to death on his own vomit in 2003. At a university rugby club initiation ceremony, he was made to pick deflated balloons out of a tub of dog food, chilli and offal.'

Another student '18, took part in a drinking initiation for the golf society that involved downing a cocktail of shots, followed by pure spirits. The inquest heard that he was violently sick after the challenge, which was part of a three-hour pub crawl in his first month of university. As part of the initiation, he and other new members were taken on a pub crawl on November 28, 2006, visiting nine bars.'

Other reports advise that a large proportion of ceremonies involve excessive alcohol consumption, just under half involve nudity and about a fifth featured 'physical abuse' as part of the initiation rite.  If you are asked to participate in an initiation by the Society or Club you have joined to gain you status or entry to the group, please report this to the Students' Union Activities Officer or the University at  Please do not feel pressured into doing something that may be humiliating, place your safety at risk or could get you into trouble with the University.  Think very carefully about what you are being asked to do - will drinking excessive amounts in a short period of time or running naked in the street enhance your student experience or could it potentially affect your future career?

It is likely that unacceptable behaviour will be reported to the University and shall be investigated in accordance with the University's Student Disciplinary Procedures.  The Procedures indicate a range of sanctions including expulsion from the University.

You should note that the University takes all reports and complaints of anti-social behaviour very seriously.  From past cases, we know that the majority of unacceptable behaviour by students is the result of excessive alcohol consumption.  The University also receives regular Police reports of student arrests and again most of these students have been under the influence of alcohol at the time.  You should ensure you know your limits and remain in control of your actions at all times.  Being under the influence of alcohol is not accepted as a form of defence against disciplinary action.  For further information please see the guidance on alcohol awareness and disciplinary action.

See the Student Disciplinary Procedures for further information.

Please see the other information available regarding discipline at the University.  You may be particularly interested in reading the How Misconduct is Dealt with and Sanctions pages.

For further advice, please contact Dawn Gray, Casework Officer, Student Progress Service (tel: 0191 208 7346, e-mail: