Last term, the student Facebook page ‘Grudgebridge’ brought into sharp relief some of the problems of Drinking Societies at our University. As one Drinking Society President put it: “Even before the Grudgebridge campaign there has been a clear need to change the ethos of many societies to safeguard against any of the deplorable actions mentioned on the page being committed by society members.” Drinking societies are spaces in this University where intolerant and offensive behaviour seems too often to have flourished and in which students have often felt unsafe.
The events of last term have gone some way in ensuring that Drinking Society members themselves confront these problems; In the words of one Drinking Society President: “I think there is a wide problem of negative group behaviour being given credibility through status and group mentality. Any effort to reduce these issues multilaterally should be taken.”
Given the ingrained nature of Drinking Societies in Cambridge University life, it is hard to know how to make a difference to these long-standing problems. However, it is fantastic to see the level of interest members have shown in trying to make a change through each society creating their own Code of Conduct. One Drinking Society President described the role of a Code of Conduct very well: “Although this may not fix the problems within the university, it is a good place to start. A code of conduct will make clear that individuals are held responsible for their actions and that no society in Cambridge will tolerate offensive or harmful behaviour.”
Another President said: “I think it is important for drinking societies to join together to show what we deem acceptable behaviour so that the culture that surrounds drinking societies is inclusive, safe, and enjoyable. I hope these changes that we make will extend beyond drinking societies and into the drinking culture within Cambridge University as a whole.”
The proposal for individual Codes of Conduct was formulated in conjunction with drinking society members, and we would also really like to thank those of you that got involved and have helped promote the initiative.
We asked Drinking Societies to sign up to the following pledge:
As the President of my Drinking Society, I commit to creating a Code of Conduct with our members in Michaelmas Term 2018. I recognise that Drinking Societies have been involved in worrying incidents of misconduct and I want my society to be part of making a change.
- Gonville and Caius College Cupids
- The Squires
- Selwyn College Bishops
- Jesus College Caesarians
- Selwyn College Swallows
- Sidney Sussex College Roundheads
- Downing College Orchids
- Sidney Sussex College Quills
- Clare College Bears
- Queens College Kangaroos
- Churchill College Bulldogs
- Downing College Patricians
- Clare College Crabs
- Homerton College Ha’Pennies & T-Birds
- Pembroke College Idlers
- Fitzwilliam College Mornie Onions
- Jesus College Black Widows
- Fitzwilliam College Shallots
- Newnham College Nuns
- St Catharine’s College Whiskers
added after 13 July
- Lucy Cavendish Lashes
- Sidney Sussex Porcs
- Pembroke Martlets
- Fitzwilliam Vikings
Next term, Evie (incoming CUSU President) and the Good Lad Initiative will be working with these twenty societies (and any others that choose to do the work involved) to create Codes of Conduct that will aim to unite members around positive values. It is notable that only around 1/3rd of Drinking Societies have signed up and we hope that others will take the summer to reflect on the way Drinking Societies can impact other students. Without Drinking Society members themselves recognising the need to take action, and committing to put effort into creating a more positive drinking culture, change will be impossible.