Should students who defy the alcohol-heavy initiation ban be expelled?

According to the father of Ed Farmer, a student at the University of Newcastle who died after he went into cardiac arrest during an initiation bar crawl, all of those who defy the new rules surrounding initiations should be expelled from their university. Alcohol-heavy initiations aren’t new – even if you’ve never been to one yourself, you’re probably aware that they happen on your campus. Some likely think that expelling those who take part is ridiculous and that expelling students is taking a man’s grief and mourning out of context. But, I don’t think so.

Like with any other university rule, if a student disobeys why shouldn’t they be expelled? At the University of Leeds, you can get expelled for swimming in the Roger Stevens pond, so why shouldn’t students be similarly expelled for more serious matters? Excessive drinking is understood to be part of the stereotypical ‘student life’, but being coerced into drinking more and more is not only irresponsible but dangerous. An inquest into the student’s death revealed that more than 100 triple vodkas were ordered for the group during the evening. That extends far past having a good time. After Ed passed out at a student house and was left in a bedroom because his fellow students thought he was just sleeping it off, irreversible brain damage occurred before he died. How many more students have faced a similar situation?

Universities should use the right to expel students involved in initiations just as they would any other student who breaks the rules. This is not the first student death from the heavy drinking culture surrounding initiations, and it likely won’t be the last.

Expelling these students isn’t about stopping students from having a good time and getting involved with societies; it’s about keeping students as safe as possible and not having them die from avoidable causes before they graduate. The entire situation is a mess, and until students start taking responsibility for themselves and their peers, the underlying cause of this issue won’t be resolved. Hopefully, by universities taking action, some of these problems can be negated, if only slightly.

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