Once again Sydney University’s colleges are in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Last week St John’s residential college suspended 30 male students after a drinking game left a young woman in hospital.
The teenager collapsed after older students allegedly accosted her in a hall and told her she could not leave until she consumed the initiation drink. She allegedly protested, citing an allergy to alcohol.
She eventually conceded and consumed the drink. Minutes later she was found convulsing on the floor and was rushed to hospital.
Last year, a separate college found itself in a similar position after a boy was allegedly forced to drink alcohol through a tube inserted into his mouth as he lay on his back. It ended in him vomiting blood.
Drinking games and drinking rituals have formed a part of initiation and bonding ceremonies within the college culture for decades.
Years ago, when I was a student at Sydney University, one of my college friends became violently ill after she was appointed “Fresher Sacrifice”. “Fresher” is the term given to first year students and during O-Week (Orientation Week) the older students would select a first year student to be “sacrificed”. This meant that the student would be plied with alcohol, often until they threw up or passed out.