Policy on Initiations and Social Events

Introduction

It is the aim of Staffordshire University Students’ Union mission to ‘strive for the best experience for students’, and in doing so to ensure a safe environment. Staffordshire University Students’ Union believes the practice of initiations is a dangerous and degrading exercise that jeopardises the safety of members and reflects negatively on the public image of students. The Union is also painfully aware that unforeseen circumstances resulting from such activities can cause anguish that may affect students and their families both personally and academically.

It is the policy of Staffordshire University and the Students Union that no student, University or Union employee, student club or society or other recognised group or association shall conduct or condone initiation activities, “consensual” or not.

Definition:-  Initiation Activities are defined as any action taken or situation created as part of induction into or continued membership of a student organisation which produces or could be expected to produce mental or physical discomfort, harm or stress; embarrassment; harassment or ridicule.

Commentary

Initiations consists of a broad range of behaviours which place another person in danger of physical or psychological harm or activities that demonstrate disregard for another persons dignity or well being. They often take away the individual’s choice for participation, and involve forced alcohol consumption and bingeing through drinking games, leading to drunken humiliation of new team members by the existing members, to establish their hierarchy within the club. Initiations are about gaining credibility with the group through ‘peer pressure’. Tasks during initiations are often demeaning and dangerous, especially whilst students are intoxicated, and create an environment of fear and discrimination.

Initiations may set out to be harmless but they have led to fatal consequences in previous years at a number of Universities around the world.

Social events

Social events are important to both clubs and societies. They can act as a means to team build, enjoy success in a relaxed atmosphere and as a way for new members to meet and socialise with other members. The following however must be considered;

  • It is the individual’s choice whether or not they attend a social event (Attendance at social events is by no means criteria for being selected into a Club squad, or society equivalent, and should not be a barrier to the individual’s participation)
  • It is each activities objective that every member of the club has an enjoyable time. It follows that each member will have a different response to activities, and no ‘peer’ pressure (intended or not) should be placed on any member to do anything that they may not enjoy. July 2009
  • All activity groups must demonstrate equal opportunities and respect the diversity of students at Staffordshire University (see the Union’s Equality & Diversity Policy for detailed guidance)

Social events must not become initiations.

1. It is the responsibility of each Activity’s Committee to organise and supervise all social events and be responsible for the welfare of all members ensuring that an adequate level of safety is maintained and discriminatory behaviour is prevented at all times.

2. It is advisable that someone on the committee acts as a Supervisor and remains sober throughout the event to maintain adequate control.

3. Supervision is essential to ensure each member’s safety, and to prevent any injuries or problems from occurring. No activity should take place that causes a risk of injury or damage to health.

4. The Union discourages excessive consumption of alcohol. This applies to every group. Consumption of alcohol should be of the member’s free choice.

5. The committee are responsible for the behaviour of its members, and should pass on the message that their actions reflect not only on the group as a whole but potentially also on both the University and the Students’ Union. All members must show respect towards others, the public and public property.

All activity group members must adhere to this policy and are accountable to the Students’ Union.

Sanctions: Breach of this policy may result in the following penalties: ·

  • Closure of the activity ·
  • Activity Funding removed or frozen ·
  • Removal of individuals, team or club from all competition ·
  • Disciplinary action of individuals in line with the Students’ Union and University Disciplinary Procedure. ·
  • Criminal Prosecution

If any member feels that these guidelines have been breached, they should inform the Student Union.

 

Important Note:

No policy can address, in specific fashion, all possible situations which may take place. When this policy does not address a specific behaviour, students and organisations are expected to conduct themselves and their activities in a spirit of social responsibility and respect for others. Ask yourself if you could satisfactorily explain a questionable activity to your parents, the parents of a fellow student, a University official, a police officer or a judge or coroner. If you don’t think so then the activity probably constitutes an initiation or an unsafe social activity.

If in doubt, then please ask a member of the Unions staff who work with student groups. They can also provide you with additional examples of positive group building activities and assistance with organising legitimate events to foster teamwork and cohesiveness.


We proudly represent the academic interests of all Students at Staffordshire University. Providing advice, student groups and fantastic experiences that make us all very Proud to be Staffs.