Whilst on tour, a sports club allegedly issued a list of rules to new members. These included instructions to lick the floor, finish a drink even if something was dropped in it, and complete any challenges.
Sport clubs participated in an annual tour trip, this year in Croatia. Appearing to be from the UEA Netball club, a list instructs ‘tour freshers’ to participate in fifteen rules, worn around members’ necks on a lanyard. “Failure to present your card will result in serious punishment,” it states.
The rules include demands that girls “must be quiet” when “older girls” and committee members are speaking, and, “No complaints to any older girls”.
Some of the rules are specific to drinking: “If an older girl drops something in your drink you must see it off.” Other rules include reacting to the random yelling of phrases. If a committee member yells “WALKIES”, members must “get down on all fours and be clipped onto a lead, and walk as if you were a dog, until told otherwise”.
SU Activities and Opportunities Officer Cam Koosyial said she could not comment directly on the allegations or any ongoing investigations. However, she said the SU had strict rules banning initiation activity and class it as harassment.
The SU define an initiation as “an event or trip where members (often new members) of a group are expected to perform a task or tasks as a means of gaining credibility, status or entry within that club that may involve peer pressure (though not explicitly) exerted on students.” The definition states initiation activity “may compromise a person’s inherent dignity as a person by expecting, forcing or requiring an individual to drink alcohol, eat mixtures of various food stuffs, nudity and behaviour that may be deemed humiliating”.
“We do have a zero tolerance to this kind of behaviour and ensure student groups are appropriately informed in these areas. Because of this, action taken can include sanctions relating specifically to the group- but also can include wider serious SU and University sanctions. As a result, those responsible for the actions of the group can also be jointly and severally liable for its activities.”
UEA SU has been working with British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) on their campaign to make sport inclusive and accessible to all students. The #TakeAStand charter, signed by UEA teams, declares: “Every student should feel included and part of a team if they so wish. We will ensure that no sports club activity involves forced alcohol consumption, ‘initiation style’ behaviour or any derogatory activity.”
UEA Netball representatives said they were not aware of such rules and declined to comment.
A UEA spokesperson said the university take its students’ safety and welfare “extremely seriously,” having “worked extensively to support all student groups to run safe and inclusive social activities”.
“The University and SU has a zero tolerance policy around initiations of any kind and any incidents reported are swiftly investigated and acted upon.
“As part of the BUCS ‘Take a Stand Campaign’, we have worked to tackle these cultures and are actively pursuing opportunities within the ‘Changes’ campaign, which is a new initiative looking to address the culture and behaviour of sports clubs,” they added.
“Training is delivered to all clubs covering behavioural expectations during social activities, including combatting initiation, challenge and peer pressuring behaviours.
“We are working together to give the best possible support to our student groups to allow them to run safe and inclusive social activities.”