Churchill May Ball committee is under fire after a “tone deaf” video depicting violence, explosions, and rubble was used to announce this year’s theme of ‘Aftermath’.

The theme reveal video has been described as “glamorising war and death and violence” and was shown during a formal on Sunday (11/02), leading to student outrage.

The formal saw Churchill’s hall decorated with tinfoil and banners that had the word “AI” on them while diners were supplied with 3D glasses and blue cocktails.

The controversial video was shown during the formal, with one anonymous student telling Varsity that it displayed footage of robots fighting humanity and that the video ended with footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The student continued, telling Varsity that the initial reaction of students at the formal was to laugh, but this was quickly followed by discussions of how the theme was inappropriate.

Many students took to anonymous college confessions page “ChurchFess” to voice their shock and disapproval, with many asserting that the video was insensitive in the context of ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.

One such confession stated: “How out of tune does an entire committee have to be for the may ball‘s theme to include bombs, drone strikes and rubble?!”

They continued, critiquing the serious nature of the theme: “for what is meant to be a forget-all-your-worries night of celebration it is astounding that war could be included in, never mind central to, the theme.”

Another anonymous post said: “how out of touch do you have to be to deliberately choose a theme that glamorises war and death and violence, especially considering the current climate… especially when it is incredibly likely that some people in college will have been directly impacted by what’s going on in Palestine/Israel (or even Ukraine/Russia).”

“I appreciate that being on committee is hard work and you guys wanna put on a good time for us, but honestly come on get it together”, they continued

In response to the backlash, the May Ball committee held an emergency meeting and addressed the situation, publishing a response to the criticisms.

The committee admitted that the reveal video “misconstrued” the true nature of the theme, which was to focus on the aftermath of an AI revolution against humanity, with decorations being inspired by robots and futuristic technology.

In the days following the reveal, the tide of opinion shifted, with students largely being appeased and impressed by how quickly and aptly the committee responded to the backlash.

One student, who spoke to Varsity on the condition of anonymity, commented: “After the formal, there was definitely a general feeling of confusion and upset about the video, but I think everyone is really happy with the way that the committee has taken on board the feedback and acted on it immediately.”

“The committee put a statement on Churchfess and sent an email to the whole college mailing list. It’s nice to see how seriously they’ve taken it, because, in the end, it is our college May Ball, and I think everyone just wants to enjoy the post-exam celebrations,” they concluded.

This sentiment was echoed by recent posts on Churchfess, with one saying: “as someone who wrote one of the original comments about the MB theme being inappropriate, i’d like to thank the MB committee for dealing with it in what seems to be a genuine and responsive manner - your hard work and openness to feedback is appreciated!”


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Yesterday (15/02), an email was then sent to all students in Churchill, where the committee again admitted that the video was a “mistake” and apologised for the controversy.

Further, they committed to changing the name of the theme, writing: “We are taking the decision to revise the theme name to one which makes the nature of the event clearer, and one we hope you can all get behind.”

When approached for comment, the Churchill May Ball committee told Varsity: “The theme of Aftermath arose as the Ball takes place as a celebration in the aftermath of exams, and we wanted a futuristic, technology-focused theme. At the launch, a video was shown which misconstrued those intentions and which we recognise was ill-judged. We have apologised to the members of our community who have been distressed and we’re working hard to take lessons on board and move forward with the event constructively.”