Police investigating chants of "rape" in Central Oxford

A group of men, some of whom are believed to be members of the Wyverns, a Cambridge drinking society, is under police investigation for chanting about rape in Oxford city centre.

The group was filmed by an Oxford student on the High Street on Saturday 10 May. The video, which was subsequently uploaded to YouTube and posted to the Facebook groups ‘Misogyny Overheard at Oxford Uni’ and ‘Cuntry Living’, appears to show the men chanting “rape” , “fifteen years,” and “she’s too young.”

The men, in a group of approximately 25, were spotted walking from Cornmarket to the Sainsbury’s next to Magdalen Bridge, chanting the whole way.

They then stood outside Magdalen College freshers’ accommodation, chanting at Magdalen members leaving and entering the building.

The student who filmed the men told Cherwell, “I saw them cross Cornmarket and thought this was just silly behaviour of some drunk people, but then I caught them again in front of St Mary The Virgin and was shocked they were still singing the same song several hundred metres later. At that point, I thought that this was slightly ridiculous and decided to film it.”

She added, “The men I confronted were obviously embarrassed. They knew the rest of the group was acting in an inappropriate way once an outsider intervened, yet (perhaps because of peer pressure) had not confronted their peers.

“None of the men was directly threatening towards me, but I think their behaviour as a whole (a large group of big-ish men strutting down the street chanting loudly and obstructing passers-by) was intimidating in the street.
“This was in broad daylight on a weekend, at a time when families with children were walking down the centre of town just looking to enjoy a safe and peaceful evening. I have since heard that shopkeepers and people in libraries were also disturbed.”

A fresher at Magdalen told Cherwell, “There was a group of people outside our accommodation who started chanting, ‘You’re at the wrong Magdalen’ as we went in. At the time we laughed it off and then read about it later.”

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There is speculation as to who the men were. The black and white hats worn by some in the video have been linked to the Wyverns of Cambridge’s Magdalene College. They are thought to be between the ages of 20 and 25. Cambridge college deans have been contacted and are looking into the matter.

The men are thought have been celebrating a stag party and many are believed not to be current students. The Cambridge Tab, reporting on the issue, claimed to recognise a number of the group as current university students.

A spokesman for Cambridge University told the Telegraph, “If indeed these students were from Cambridge, their behaviour is deplorable. The colleges and university will be investigating.”

The Wyverns attracted controversy last year when their garden party, “Suicide Sunday,” was banned from University grounds for being overtly sexist.
The event had previously included jelly wrestling between bikini-clad students, which received national news coverage. Last year, the jelly wrestling event was cancelled following a student petition, which gained 891 signatures, calling for a ban.

The petition also received support from the Cambridge Women’s Campaign and national news.

The event will continue this year at a location, “in exilio”. A disclaimer on the event website says, “The Wyverns encourage our guests to drink responsibly.”

In a statement on the Facebook page of fictional character, “Johnnie Wyvern,” the society said, “The Wyverns would like to condemn the actions of those seen acting inappropriately in Oxford this weekend.

“This was NOT a Wyvern organised event and the video shows no current student to be taking part in the disgraceful chants.

“We find the behaviour seen in the video appalling and hope those who are involved are made to apologise.”

The incident has also been reported to Thames Valley Police, who are currently conducting an investigation into the disturbance and the use of offensive language.

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A police spokesperson said in a statement to the press, “We received a call on Sunday which was a report of a group of men using offensive language in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, on Saturday evening at approximately 7.30pm.
“Our officers are in the early stages of making enquiries.”