Having woken yesterday morning to the news that the University of Gloucester was investigating the events of Fresher’s week initiations, I was immediately taken back to not so distant memories of similar team bonding rituals I had witnessed or taken part in.

Being asked to play 1st XI cricket four years young was originally such an honour; however, walking into the dressing room a 5ft nothing, floppy haired 14 year old and coming straight up against England U18's skinhead captain, Jack O’Sullivan, soon took the smile off my face. The cricket team was the only side in the school which partook in 'initiations', but were known for simply being embarrassing and making others laugh, rather than being violent or alcohol fuelled. I escaped my first 2 matches in 05 unscathed and without incident, but nonetheless my lack of initiation drew attention early next season...unaware of the plot going on behind me at lunch, the captain came and sat down next to me and enquired if I had checked the cream on my cake was alright. Obligingly, I sniffed the cream sitting on top of my dessert, and duly had my head slammed into it. It didn’t hurt, but it was the whole room standing and laughing, as bits of apple fell from my nose, which was the desired outcome.

I moved through the ranks and was made captain for my last year, meaning, technically I was the one responsible for initiations. Not being one for public humiliation I didn’t want to be the mastermind behind such acts of embarrassment, but didn’t stop other u6th representatives of the side from planning such Machiavellian and underhand schemes to torment fledgling first teamers.

Younger members would at first protest and be very wary of potential inductions, but once it had been done one felt more a part of the side and could join the old boys of the side in the ranks of those who had been initiated. This is what I feel initiations should involve, not alcohol fuelled vomiting, or eating raw fish out of buckets of dog food. People are calling for them to be banned, but as many others are saying this would simply drive these rituals underground. With some kind of moral and social responsibility in heed, these initiations can continue to take place, but it just takes one or two people to take it out of control again before it starts to deter people from playing.

Comments

As always there are limits. For some people the line is blurred between what is deemed a socially appropriate activity which enables team and friendship building, and what is a moronic excuse to see other people suffer.

Along with the incident of the teenager jumping off a building this week after being tortured mercilessly for hours, it makes you wonder if there are more incredibly sick minded people out there in the world today than there used to be and if so, why?

Stunts like this are a poor reflection on university students and campus life and are the reason why so few of us even dare to become a part of any social club these days.

Initiations - Team-bonding exuberance or just a means to make people cry?