Students gather on Jesus Green on Caesarian SundayCaitlin Smith

Regardless of whether you’re an avid swap attendee or adamantly against the very concept of drinking societies, there are two facts we must all acknowledge: that there are problems with current drinking society culture as exposed by Grudgebridge, and that as an entrenched part of Cambridge student life, drinking societies are going to continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

Pragmatically, then, we must work to develop solutions to the problems which have been exposed. At the moment, infrastructure is simply not in place to deal with drinking societies. While many colleges have affirmed in recent weeks that they have policies against bullying, discrimination and sexual misconduct, drinking societies are a specific issue, and therefore require a specific, rather than general, solution.

Particular problems posed by drinking societies include their pack mentality and often hostile or exclusionary attitude toward other members of the college community. Drinking societies are long-associated with privilege in its many forms, and this can give them a position of power within the college which makes complaints and disciplinary procedures less straightforward than in cases which focus on individuals.


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Mountain View

No easy answers after a term filled with drinking society scandal

In most colleges, drinking societies do not exist as official student societies. However, they take different guises (the boundary between drinking society and sport society is at best blurred), and events such as formal dinners and garden parties often take place on college property.

This presence means that the colleges and the University have a responsibility to regulate and monitor their actions, and a first step towards this would be for colleges to more formally recognise their own drinking societies. Recognition is not the same as sanctioning the existence of drinking societies; it is merely the acceptance of a fact. This will allow colleges to introduce measures to better control drinking society behaviour, for example by requiring them to adhere to a code of conduct or constitution.

It’s far from a full solution, but as the news story quietens down, we must ensure the pressure continues to create a better university for both present and prospective students.

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