The behaviour of students at Oxford and Cambridge has once again come under media scrutiny following the release of information to The Daily Telegraph concerning college discipline over the past two years.
According to The Telegraph and the Daily Mail, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act by 15 different colleges chart the “appalling behaviour” of undergraduates and suggest that students at the institute constitute “some of the most depraved.”
Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge came under particular fire with 44 separate incidents of indiscipline since 2010. These included letting fireworks off at 4am, parading the boat club captain naked around Sainsbury’s and throwing food at each other at a local Indian restaurant.
Oxford’s Merton College also made headlines, after incidents of “alcohol-related bad behaviour” resulted in the Myrmidons, the college’s male-only dining society, being banned from holding their summer garden party.
The records stated that, “It apparently never occurred to students that there was something fundamentally wrong with their behaviour.”
The publication of the records has had mixed responses. Whilst The Daily Telegraph branded the reports evidence of widespread “student mayhem” amongst the academic elite, a spokesperson for Oxford commented, “Oxford and Cambridge between them account for tens of thousands of young people, so it’s not entirely surprising that incidents of stupid and inappropriate behaviour do come up. When they go too far, they face the consequences – which, because they are studying at world-famous universities, sometimes include getting in the paper.”
The universities have been quick to emphasise that the welfare of students is paramount, and that any incidents which could have an adverse effect on other students and on the wider community would be appropriately dealt with.
A spokesperson for Cambridge University commented, “All colleges have their students’ welfare and their safety as a key priority: any incidents of behaviour affecting others, whether in the college community or among the public, are taken very seriously. The colleges are pro-active in dealing with the problems of excessive drinking, working with health and public order professionals to make students drink- and safety-aware. Any incidents are dealt with and appropriate sanctions imposed.”
Students expressed the opinion that Oxbridge is often unfairly treated by the media, with second year English student Bethany Cox commenting, “If you work hard, you have to play hard, and in the majority of cases this is responsibly.” A Cambridge second year philosopher concurred, remarking, “the author of the Daily Mail article probably went to Durham.”