The BBC (amongst others) reports today about the initiation ceremonies undertaken by students across the UK in order to be accepted as a member of a university society (generally sports society, but it’s not exclusively athletics related). It has a video showing a group of students from the University of Gloucester being lined up against a wall by someone dressed in what looks like a Nazi uniform, being forced to drink alcohol and then throwing up before being walked in lines around the town.
I have never been a big drinker, and the thought of initiation ceremonies like this would definitely have put me off joining a sports team in university, had I been athletic enough to have been considered in the first place! I know many people, though, who have been put through these initiation ceremonies and it is nothing short of outright bullying. The other members of the society definitely think less of you if you don’t do it, and in their eyes it is far better that you drink until you need to be taken to A&E for emergency treatment rather than demonstrating an initial reserve and some common sense about the amount and the speed at which you consume the alcohol.
Exactly what is the point of this sort of activity? Can someone please enlighten me? How does your capacity to drink alcohol and to do stupid things whilst drunk relate in any way to prowess on a sports field? I would have thought that, if you want to put prospective sports club members through an initiation it would be far more apt to put them through a really gruelling, semi-SAS style fitness test. No? Just me? But seriously, please someone explain to me the attraction of this sort of thing!
I just don’t get it!
In a marginally related topic, it worries me that people are dressing as Nazis for this sort of thing. We’ve only recently heard about a Nazi rally in Somerset, and now another example of the image of Naziism returning with the wearing of a Nazi-style uniform by the student organising the ceremony in the BBC video. I know that we live in a (nominally) free society, but there should be tighter limits if this sort of thing is deemed acceptable. Have people forgotten what it must have been like to live in 1930s Germany and through WW2 in Europe?