In CUSU, we have been disappointed but not always surprised to see the recent reports of racist, sexist, classist, ableist, transphobic and homophobic behaviour by various Cambridge “Drinking Societies”. We join many other students in condemning this behaviour and extending our love and solidarity to anyone affected. Drinking Societies are a remnant of elitism and have long been a negative presence in Cambridge and we do not believe that they have a place in our University.
We understand the concern and anger of many students about the behaviour of Drinking Societies. Moving forward, we hope that this feeling can be funnelled into productive channels:
- For JCRs/MCRs who would value support and coordination in responding to Drinking Societies, we have started a Drinking Societies Working Group. We are also here to support students who want to take action in their colleges.
- It is crucial that we organise at a college level.
Given that exams are coming up for many students, we very much understand that you might not have so much energy, but there is much to keep in mind. You could: Hold open meetings about this issue, write an open letter, demand that your college cut financial ties with drinking societies and demand a meeting to raise concerns with the administration of your college. Think about getting in touch with the feminist societies and womens’ officers in their colleges as a useful way to start a project or campaign.
- On a University-wide level, the liberation campaigns are useful vehicles of change. The next Women’s Campaign forum is the 24/05/2018, and women and non-binary people can raise a motion on this.
- For any Drinking Society members who want to make change, CUSU President Daisy Eyre welcomes you to get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above all, we want to extend our support and solidarity to victims of sexual assault and harassment. Part of Breaking the Silence on sexual misconduct is in uncovering and undermining cultures of complicity in Cambridge that enable sexual violence to continue, Drinking Societies are part of this. If any student has been affected, we encourage you to get in touch with the Sexual Assault and Harassment Advisor who can be contacted by a quick online form on the counselling service website – www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/sexual-assault-and-harassment-advisor.
Under Breaking the Silence there are also formal and informal reporting mechanisms that you can find here: www.breakingthesilence.cam.ac.uk.
You can find a breakdown of the new informal procedure here.
You can also access support from
- Nightline: www.linkline.org.uk, 01223744444
- Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre www.cambridgerapecrisis.org.uk, 01223 313551
- Students’ Unions’ Advice Service, www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk
- as well as people in your college such as tutors, nurses and counsellors.