Two consecutive videos obtained by The Courier were shared on private Instagram account @fiveguysnulhc, a longstanding gossip page for members of Newcastle University Ladies Hockey Club (NULHC). Six players for the club can be seen kneeling side by side as beer is poured down a shin pad into their mouth by established members.
The videos were captioned “Welcome to the team freshiess” and “Rate the freshers downing their tinny”.
Benthe Tanghe, Athletic Union Officer at Newcastle University Students’ Union, has issued a statement: “We are aware of a video posted on social media, that appears to show inappropriate behaviour relating to members of the Newcastle University Ladies Hockey Club and an investigation is underway."
"The safety of our students is of the upmost importance to us, and we will not tolerate any behaviour which puts our students at risk."
"The investigation will assess if the students breached our policies and procedures regarding initiations, dangerous behaviours, coercive behaviours and Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines. While this investigation is ongoing, we are unable to comment further.”
'Initiation' events are common among sports clubs, but there has been a crackdown on "extreme" initiations with the aim that new members will drink heavily and engage in otherwise degrading behaviour.
Society initiation ceremonies are strictly prohibited at Newcastle University after an inquest into the death of first year Economics student Ed Farmer in 2018. Farmer suffered a brain injury due to cardiac arrest during a triple-vodka bar crawl organised by the University’s Agricultural Society, where he was reportedly instructed to drink shots of vodka from a pig’s head.
Farmer’s father Jeremy implored universities to publicly declare that they will expel any students who engaged in initiation rituals, calling for a “zero-tolerance” approach.
The North East is also subject to Tier 2 lockdown restrictions, which states that no more than six people can meet indoors or outdoors, rendering the gathering illegal.
The University has also responded to the video:
"We are aware of the video and an investigation has been launched by Newcastle University’s Students’ Union and reported to us through the Student Disciplinary Process. While the investigation is ongoing we cannot comment further on this incident."
“We take our responsibility for the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and local community extremely seriously."
“Our Student Charter, which is signed by all students, makes it very clear that initiations or similar dangerous behaviour is banned and reinforces the importance of sensible drinking. It has also been updated this year to take account of new and additional responsibilities relating to Covid-19.”
Featured Image: fiveguysnulhc on Instagram and Newcastle University Ladies Hockey Club (NULHC) on Facebook