Ed Farmer (above), 18, died after taking part in an initiation event at Newcastle University that involved drinking vodka from a pig’s head and apple bobbing in urin
Deadly university initiations similar to the one which was attended by Ed Farmer before his death continue to blight British higher academic institutions – despite being banned by a number of students’ unions.
The death of Newcastle University student Ed Farmer, 18, following an night out involving drinking vodka from a pig’s head and apple bobbing in urine, has brought the rituals under further scrutiny.
During the initiation-style bar crawl attended by Farmer in December 2016, two rounds of at least 100 tripples vodka and oranges were bought to be shared between 40 students.
His death following the Agricultural Society event joins the continuing spate of alcohol-related deaths linked to initiations.
Farmer’s tragic case is just the latest in a string of historic initiation incidents which have led to the death of students.
In 2003, Staffordshire University fresher Alex Doji, 18, died after choking on his own vomit following a rugby team initiation. Back in 2005, Hull University student Tom Ward, 19, died after drinking 12 pints and up to six shots in a rugby team initiation.
And in 2008, Exeter University banned all student initiation ceremonies after fresher Gavin Britton, 18, took part in a drinking initiation that involved downing a cocktail of shots, followed by pure spirits during a three-hour pub crawl.
Following the challenge, Mr Britton was violently sick and died from acute ethanol poisoning according to toxicology reports.
Newcastle University also officially bans initiations to its student societies.
The university website warns ‘anyone found to have organised or participated in an initiation ritual will be subject to disciplinary action.’
But when asked about the university ban on initiations, students were only vaguely aware of it. ‘You get emails, but I don’t think anybody is really going to listen to it – they’d just call them something else,’ one said.
‘You’d pour spirits into a football boot and drink them, or do shots of something that’s a bit disgusting,’ one student recalled.
Lesley Braiden, academic registrar at Newcastle University, said it was ‘difficult, if not impossible, to monitor’ initiation events.
Warwick University student Jason Venezia, 19, lost his life after drinking half a litre of vodka in 20 minutes during a university drinking game in 2008, an inquest heard.
Despite these tragic incidents, footage of excessive drinking and ‘lad-culture’ behaviour has been proudly shared online, with students made to drink pints upside down, strip to their underwear and eat animal food.
In a report uncovered by The Times last year students at Loughborough University were challenged to drink four litres of cider and then told to vomit into a bucket. The last to finish then had the vomit thrown over them.
One of the male students at Aston University was filmed as toilet roll hanging from his buttock was lit
Ed Farmer died during an initiation event at Newcastle University’s (pictured) Agricultural Society
In another absurd ritual, University of Bath students reportedly performed in an initiation that saw them being blindfolded before having their hands urinated on.
In 2017, there were reports of students at Manchester University having urine, faeces, vomit and even chilli powder rubbed on their genitals during a rugby team initiation event.
Other initiation rituals allegedly involved a type of apple bobbing event in which students were told to fish out a dead rat from a barrel of cider, according to The Tab.
One student told The Tab Manchester: ‘I know someone who had to shave their head as a forfeit so their friend [who was already paralytic] didn’t have to down another pint.’
In one of the many initiation videos posted online, around 30 Aston University rugby freshers appear to drink copious copious amounts of alcohol through a funnel as the older, fully-clothed students look on.
Warwick student Jason Venezla, 19, died from acute alcohol poisoning in 2008 after drinking half litre of vodka
In another clip posted online, one of the male students pulled his trousers down and had toilet roll hanging out of his bum, which was then lit while still attached to him.
In shocking footage posted on YouTube in 2009, freshers from Oxford Brookes university were made to eat chilis and cat food, drink pints while upside down and carry out degrading acts on the floor while beer, cream and flour were thrown over them.
Footage posted online by Kent’s korfball team shows them injecting fruit with alcohol during an initiation-style event where students were in fancy dress.
Even though the rituals are banned by some universities, the absurd ceremonies that remain in existence are a significant cause for concern and continue to pressure young academics into dangerous drinking.
The ‘rite-of-passage’ remains popular, particularly for ‘fresher’ students joining sports societies.
Often first year students are made to drink heavily and carry out dangerous stunts in order to impress their older peers.
Last year an unnamed student posted on the social media site The Student Room about their initiation experience.
They wrote: ‘The initiation was the final straw for me, don’t wanna be too extreme with it on here but we were expected to drink whatever they asked us to and I’m not talking alcohol and strip naked whilst they dragged our knees across the street.
‘I packed it in at that point, went down to a local club instead and just played there. If you don’t play along you don’t get picked basically.’
In 2016 there were reports of female Cambridge University students taking part in initiations including ‘beer baguette’, that saw them drink lager through a hollowed-out French stick and ‘heels relays’, where members had to run in their highest pair of shoes while passing shots to teammates.
This year, Buckinghamshire’s ski and snowboarding society shared a well-edited video of their initiation on social media.
Students are seen drinking 85p cans of cheap lager through funnels during the mixed-gender event, while other drinks the cans from in between the legs of the other undergraduates.
In one of the clips, one of the boys drinking from the legs of another man is slapped over the head as he drinks the cheap lager.
Gavin Britton, 18, a student at Exeter University, died after taking part in a drinking game initiation that involved down a cocktail of shots followed by pure spirits
University students at Aston University rugby club drinking pints topless during their initiation
Video footage of Aston University rugby club has been uploaded onto YouTube. In this clip, beer is run through a funnel where students then drink
Students are often drink excessive amounts of alcohol on their nights out. Pictured: A Southampton University rowing student drinking an alcopop during a night out
While the dangerous initiations are condemned by the governing body for higher education sport, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), clubs continues to practice them behind closed doors.
Intimations also have a notorious reputation for making students dress up in offensive or outrageous costumes as part of their blooding-in ceremonies.
An initiation filmed at the University of Gloucester in 2008 saw a man dressed in a Nazi outfit ordering students wearing bags on their heads to drink and then vomit.
A banana is injected with alcohol during an initiation-style event by Kent University’s korfball team
Cambridge University students were condemned for holding drunken initiations that involved drinking lager through a hollowed-out French stick and running in their highest pair of shoes while passing shots to teammates
In January, shocking video footage showed students at the University of Otago, New Zealand, being vomited on and having green goo poured on them from a wheelie bin as they wore only their underwear.
There were also reports a student urinated on another’s face during the annual initiation, which unfolded in the backyard of a property in September last year.
In 1993 a student reporter infiltrated one of the initiations at Cambridge to reveal members taking part in a ritual that involved inserting a private part of the male anatomy into a pig’s mouth.
The account bared a similarity to the allegations David Cameron took part in a similar ceremony during his time at university.
New university students engage in hazing activities on September 9, 2010 in Lyon, France. Although it has been illegal since 1998, the practice continues at some universities during orientation weekends
A medical student throws flour on freshers of the Faculty of Medicine during a hazing at the University of Granada, in Spain on October 17, 2013
Medical students throw food at freshers of the Faculty of Medicine during a hazing initiation at the University of Granada in Spain