Call­ing time on uni ini­ti­a­tion cer­e­monies

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

I have been driven to write in sup­port of the ban­ning of ini­ti­a­tion cer­e­monies by uni­ver­si­ties (Fam­ily calls for ac­tion over son’s drink death, 26 Oc­to­ber). In 2015 my daugh­ter was sub­ject to ini­ti­a­tion cer­e­mony at another uni­ver­sity by a so­ci­ety. She be­lieved the ends of her hair would be dyed pink.

This is what ac­tu­ally hap­pened: af­ter dark and by sur­prise, she was whisked off a street, blind­folded and put into a van along with a group of the other unini­ti­ated.

They were held in a dark cel­lar and told to look for a box of matches on the floor in or­der to find a piece of pa­per. This was a “recipe” for a hooch made from bot­tles of spir­its, which they were in­structed to drink. In a drunken state the group was blind­folded again and taken to a wood out­side the city to find their own way back to the uni­ver­sity.

We de­cided not to re­port it to the uni­ver­sity at the time be­cause we were fright­ened of the re­tal­i­a­tion. My daugh­ter went from be­ing happy and get­ting top grades in some of her pa­pers to be­ing “down” and leav­ing the uni­ver­sity be­fore the end of the year. I was re­lieved that it didn’t trig­ger a ma­jor men­tal illness. I re­gret not speak­ing out be­fore. Name and ad­dress sup­plied

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