A number of the University's drinking societies hold initiations on Caesarian SundayLouis Ashworth

Colleges and JCRs have responded to accumulating claims on Grudgebridge about a culture of bullying and sexual harassment allegedly endemic within drinking societies, with a number contacting their members regarding posts on the page.

Emails have been sent to students from both Newnham and Downing JCR committees regarding the alleged behaviour of drinking society members, while Trinity Hall asked their students to refrain from using social media to make and discuss allegations.

Trinity Hall’s acting Senior Tutor, Dr William O’Reilly, sent an email on Monday to the college’s JCR members urging them to give their attention to “preparing for Tripos and to working together in our community” rather than posting on social media, following the recent scandal involving the Trinity Hall men’s drinking society, the Crescents. O’Reilly subsequently sent an email the next day to “clarify” that the original email “in no way condoned inappropriate behaviour, nor did I intend to silence complaints,” following a backlash from students.

The Crescents gained significant media attention after a video first published on Grudgebridge showed a student at Trinity Hall claiming that “inclusivity” is “the single biggest problem facing the Crescents in the modern age,” during a gathering on Caesarian Sunday.

O’Reilly claimed posts and comments on social media “reflects poorly on those individuals involved” due to their “tone and impropriety”.

Although the college have taken action against the Crescents, initially cancelling their annual garden party before the society disbanded last week, some students at Trinity Hall have expressed concerns about the college’s reaction to the events in an open letter to JCR members.

The letter states that the tone of O’Reilly’s email may suggest a “reluctance to deal with the accusations” and that in the future it might “discourage students from highlighting misconduct”. The letter goes on to suggest that the college’s public image should be a “secondary priority to the welfare of the members within it,” claiming that O’Reilly’s email suggests this is not the case.

A Grudgebridge admin has also responded to O’Reilly’s email, describing it as “another blatant attempt by a college to ignore drinking soc behaviour” and a “patronising attempt” by Trinity Hall to avoid their responsibility to their students.

O’Reilly’s email on Tuesday offered an apology for the lack of clarity in the original statement, and affirmed that the College “remains totally committed to having a culture of zero tolerance to all forms of harassment”. He said that the email had been sent in response to “grossly inappropriate” posts on social media which made comparisons between the behaviour of students and far-right groups.


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Following a number of posts on Grudgebridge regarding the conduct of one of Newnham’s drinking societies, the Newnham Nuns, the college’s JCR wrote an email to its members outlining a plan of action following an emergency committee meeting held yesterday.

In it, they noted a number of complaints had been made to JCR committee members about the Nuns by students “concerned for their safety”, claiming that the Nuns’ initiation rituals are “degrading and exploitative”.

The email concluded with a resolution to urge the college to disband its drinking societies, a proposal to establish an anonymous reporting system through which college members can report misconduct, and to ask the college to investigate claims levelled against the Nuns.

Although no complaints were registered about the college’s other drinking society, the Newnham Nereides, the JCR statement claimed they were nonetheless complicit in supporting “indefensible” drinking society culture.

Speaking to Varsity, the president of the Nereides said they “want to sort out the inexcusable behaviour of some drinking societies” and they “look forward to working with college to create a positive and safe environment for drinking at Newnham.”

Downing JCR also emailed its members, claiming that while most Grudgebridge accusations did not implicate the College’s drinking societies, it provided an “opportunity to break the silence on racist, sexist, homophobic, or generally offensive behaviour, both within college and beyond” and that the committee would look to “bring real solutions” to any accusations.

Newnham Nuns did not respond to Varsity’s request for comment.

  • This article was edited on 16th May to reflect comments made in an email sent by Trinity Hall’s acting Senior Tutor on 15th May.

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