See it away: This time, Cambridge drinking society antics deserve the predictable backlash

I'm proud of my university but there's no defending this sort of behaviour

Sebastian Salek
Tuesday 12 February 2013 14:10

You don’t get a lot of rain in Cambridge. Sat snugly in the Fens, weeks can pass without bad weather. But that doesn’t matter now, because there’s a shit storm coming our way.

Rather aptly, it has come in the form of a leak: a series of documents outlining the jaunts of a drinking society, fragments of which have been published by The Tab, Cambridge University’s student tabloid. Written by society members themselves, the debriefs are a unique account of their weekly ‘swaps’ (boozy dinners with a female drinking society followed by a night out) that show otherwise respectable young men spurred by mob rule to do the sort of things that would get your average working lad a night in a cell.

They tell of the total destruction of a recently done up restaurant toilet: hand dryers and sinks ripped off the wall, a pipe severed, and toilet-goers left to wade through a two-inch deep pool of piss which also found its way out into the corridor. Think Changing Rooms but in reverse, and the presenters are incontinent.

Meanwhile, at the table, wine glasses were tossed about like beach balls, with one shattering all over diners. Things also got physical with the waiters as they tried to escort the offenders off the premises.

The behaviour towards their female counterparts was equally astonishing: one girl’s room fell victim to the same piss-fiend, which was given a similar treatment as the restaurant toilet. Another was accidentally punched in the face when a brawl got out of hand. Most shockingly of all, others had their bras forcefully removed. All of this found in an exultant email, an electronic pat on the back sent to members of the drinking society the following day.

The Tab has decided not to publish more information in order to protect those involved. But these are exactly the people who need to be identified so that they can be dealt with accordingly, let alone for the safety of girls that they might swap with in the future. We’re told that our Cambridge education will open many doors for us in life, but this shouldn’t be one of them.

Any student here will tell you that this sort of behaviour is rare. That’s why, when something untoward emerges, the worry is the inevitable response from the Daily Mail - a complete car crash for access teams who work so hard to dispel Oxbridge myths and attract applicants from diverse backgrounds.

You might have noticed that the Mail love drinking societies, they’re bloody tragic for them. And so every time they catch wind of anything the slightest bit alcohol-fuelled and ritualistic, they decide that ‘the truth’ is going to be optional for a bit while they churn out a bombastic article just to ruffle a few feathers.

As a result, I’m usually quite quick to defend drinking societies. With excessive alcohol consumption as their lifeblood and the casual misogyny of a 1950s soap advert, they’re hardly the jewel in Cambridge’s crown, but for the most part they keep themselves to themselves and nobody gets hurt.

Not this time. I’m proud of my university, but I just can’t defend this sort of behaviour. It’s not typical of the vast majority of Cambridge students, let alone those in drinking societies. Of course, the accounts have almost certainly been embellished, but that’s worrying in its own right; criminal damage and sexual assault are nothing that deserve to be glorified. By all means drink and be merry - we’re only young once - but this is way too far.

I never thought I’d say this, but come on, Daily Mail - do your worst. And this time all you have to do is stick to the facts.

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