The Athletic Union (AU) could start cracking down on initiation nights and excessive drinking by sports clubs after a spate of incidents .
Notorious for drunken debauchery, sports club initiation nights have caused a string of problems recently.
Yet they are officially not permitted by the AU. Sarah Thomson, president of the AU, told The Saint: “All AU clubs are aware of our no initiations policy, which clubs must sign up to as part of the re-affiliation process. In addition, as a British Universities and Colleges Sport member organisation, we also sign up to their policy on codes of conduct. All committees are reminded that initiations are not an acceptable form of social activity.
A source within the golf club who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Saint the club has felt a back-lash from the AU after a recent night out. They may be stripped of their right to compete for the University.
According to the source, every year the golf club holds a Wednesday night pub crawl. It has become ‘tradition’ that the team stop by McIntosh Hall on their way around town. In the past, members are said to have caused considerable damage and disruption. After this year’s visit, the AU sent an email to members of the club, asking them to attend a meeting on the Thursday morning. Only one member of the committee, the health and safety officer, was able to attend.
The meeting served as a hearing, according to the source. The AU threatened him and the rest of the committee with being banned from representing the University in sport again. He was also the only member of the committee to appear before McIntosh hall staff.
The club is still waiting to hear the results of this meeting.
The president and vice-president of the golf club refused to comment on this matter when approached by The Saint. The AU also declined to comment on the golf club’s position but Ms Thomson said: “I can assure you that we are doing all that we can to resolve the issue.”
Ms Thomson continued: “We work closely with our committees throughout the year to ensure they have the support and guidance to run all aspects of their clubs effectively and appropriately. At the beginning of the year all clubs are required to take part in our Club Excellence programme, which includes a session on student well-being run by Student Services covering mental health, student behaviour/discipline, alcohol awareness and eating disorders.
“This year we are working more closely than ever with committees through initiatives such as the Club Captains Forum, which opens dialogue between the AU and committees, as well as giving Club Captains a platform to raise issues from their club with other Club Captains for support and advice.”
Reports have been heard of further incidents at other sports clubs’ initiations. New members of the shinty team were made to play drunk, resulting in one Fresher leaving with a black eye. The football team were reportedly made to eat a cucumber covered with lube and the rugby team made players wear soap which they would have to eat every time they did something “bad”.
An ambulance had to be called recently when a member of the women’s football club became dangerously drunk. The ambulance came to the scene of the house party on Market Street and the girl was given an IV, but not taken to hospital. It has not been confirmed whether this incident related to an initiation night, or was simply the result of pre-drinking for Sinners’ Sport.
Pat Mathewson, president of the Students’ Association said: “The Associaiton fully supports the AU’s position against initiation nights. I know Ms Thomson takes this very seriously and will be working hard against it.”
Another source, wishing to remain anonymous, told The Saint about their initiation experience. They said: “Despite the almost passing out whilst vomiting into a bath scenario, it was definitely my best night in St Andrews to date. It was basically a brilliant mess and I don’t even like drinking that much but wow.
“I think [initiations are] a great way to get to know people as long as you’re careful and in good hands. Although I’ve heard much worse things from other teams and Universities.”
The University was unable to comment on this matter.