Student group initiations - our stance

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Greenwich Students' Union statement

Greenwich Students’ Union was extremely saddened to hear of the tragic death of Ed Farmer in 2016 following his attendance at a student group event at Newcastle University, which included initiations (see BBC News report here). Following on from the coroner’s report and national press surrounding this, we would like to reiterate that we as a Union do not accept, condone, or tolerate any form of negative initiation culture, ritual or tradition.

While we do welcome groups welcoming new members, this is to be done in a safe manner and must not involve peer pressure, humiliation, bullying or forced activity of any kind. Engaging in social activity is not a requirement of membership for any student involved in Greenwich Students’ Union.

This is highlighted in the Code of Conduct for student groups, which can be found in the Activities Handbook. Student groups are also reminded this at training sessions throughout the year. An additional reminder to student groups about this was also given via social media and through an email to all student group leaders in September.

For individuals and/or groups who are found to be engaging in these prohibited activities, there will be heavy repercussions which could involve suspension of individuals and/or committees, through to disbandment of groups. Repercussions will be decided and enforced by the Students’ Union, taking into consideration each incident individually.

We would like to reiterate that we absolutely do not want to suspend any individuals/committees or disband any of our student groups. However, if the circumstances are severe, then we will be left with no choice. We would like all group leaders to take this time to consider whether suspension/disbandment is worth engaging in any prohibited activities. We strongly feel that it is certainly not worth it.

In light of how serious the impact of negative initiation culture can be, we would like to refer all students to our Complaints procedures. We highly encourage the use of the Complaints procedures to report any person or groups who go against the Student Unions’ stance on negative initiation culture, ritual or tradition. To find out more about the procedures please go to greenwichsu.co.uk/complaints. If you are aware of student groups who are contravening the above, you are able to report that to us anonymously via greenwichsu.co.uk/makeacomplaint. Students can also seek support from our free, independent, and confidential Advice Service. Their contact details can be found at greenwichsu.co.uk/advice.

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