Friday, January 8, 2010

Tom Ward: British rugby hazing death victim

Tom Ward, a 19-year-old Hull University student, took part in an initiation ceremony for new rugby team recruits. The pub crawl, known as the Beverley Road Run, was simple, yet unforgiving.
Every 10 minutes teams of students set off for a pub. They had five minutes to down pints and spirits before running to the next pub. The aim was to stay ahead of the next team.
In the ceremony last October, Ward, a second-year student in criminology and psychology, consumed at least 12 pints and up to six shots - at least 30 units of alcohol in three hours. After arriving back at his shared student house he fell and was discovered lifeless at the foot of the stairs. Attempts to revive him failed. A coroner at Hull earlier this month ruled that Ward had died of "positional asphyxia caused by alcohol intoxication".
Yet his death has seemingly done little to curb the students' appetite to carry on with the tradition again this year. "We have no control over students once they have left the union premises. They are all over 18 and adults," says Shona Lloyd, president of Hull University Student Union. "Following the accident we led a 'Mind Your Mates' campaign, to encourage them to look after friends on nights out. The dangers of excessive drinking in a short space of time will be emphasised again when our next intake of students starts in September."

Student hazing death in Britain

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18-year-old "Fresher" Alex Doji of Staffordshire University died in 2003 following an alcohol ceremony. His was considered an athletic hazing death. He was a newcomer on the rugby team.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Wasted": The Death of Gavin Britton, Exeter University

Gavin Britton hazing death

A student drank so much he died after an initiation ceremony for his university's golf society, an inquest heard yesterday.

Gavin Britton stood on a chair in one pub and was cheered as he downed a green concoction known as a Jackson Five that may have contained up to 12 shots of alcohol.

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'A wasted life': Gavin Britton, pictured partying with friends, claimed his motto was to 'live on the edge'

It was one of many drinks he consumed during an evening of "pub golf" in which each had to be finished within 30 seconds and in a 'par' number of swigs.

The 20 student golfers he was with were too drunk to remember when or where Mr Britton was last seen during the three-hour pub crawl in November 2006, the hearing was told.

His body was found by workmen in Exeter city centre the next morning.

Mr Britton, 18, who was weeks into his first year studying business at Exeter University, had joined the golf society soon after starting his course.

Exeter University freshman Gavin Britton, 18, died from alcohol poisoning playing pub golf as a freshers' week initiation

His parents Ian, a property developer, and Susan, a former dental nurse, from Barton on Sea, Hampshire, listened as their son's friends described how binge drinking was "usual behaviour" during initiation ceremonies at the university.

One member of the golf society told the hearing in Exeter how Mr Britton drank the Jackson Five. Fraser Hassell, 19, said: "He was standing on a chair and everyone was cheering him on. He was handed a drink by the barman and started to down it in one.

"He nearly finished it all.

"It was a green and yellow colour but nobody knew what was in it. Gavin then ran to the toilet and was sick everywhere.

"I asked him if he was OK and he said, "What was in that? It tasted like pure alcohol"."

In a statement, the barman who gave Mr Britton the drink insisted it was just vodka, gin and pineapple juice. Other witnesses suggested it contained up to 12 measures of alcohol.

Gavin Britton's body was found in the city centre the next morning - his golfing partner had given up and gone home

The pub crawl took in 13 bars, although it is not known how many Mr Britton visited. The students, who were in fancy dress, were given penalty drinks if they failed to finish each beverage within the 30 seconds or in a designated number of swigs, similar to the way a hole on a golf course is given a par of a certain number of strokes.

The evening began with a Par One - a can of cider drunk in one go. This was followed by a Par Two pint of cider and blackcurrant juice, then vodka, Jack Daniel's and wine were consumed in an allotted number of gulps as the evening continued.

Mr Hassell told the hearing: "There was a lot of pressure to keep up with our peers during the initiation ceremony."

However, former geography student Alexander MacGregor, 22, who was golf team captain, said the drinking games were "a normal thing that happened during these ceremonies".

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Lethal: It is claimed Mr Britton drank four vodkas, three pints of cider, a glass of wine and numerous shots of Sambuca before downing a potent mixture of spirits.

He added: "Nobody was pressurised to drink, there was no bullying."

The group were given score cards and were marked on how many gulps they took.

Exactly how much Mr Britton drank is not clear, but it was said that he consumed four vodkas, three pints of cider, a glass of wine and numerous shots of Sambuca before downing the Jackson Five.

He had posted photos of his previous drinking on the website MySpace and said his motto was: "If you're not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space."

The inquest was told that four weeks before his death, Mr Britton had been found by police "drunk and incapable" after an all-day drinking session and had been taken to hospital for treatment.

Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of alcohol poisoning. She said it was a "sad tale of a wasted life".

A spokesman for Exeter University said last night that initiation ceremonies by student societies had been banned.

British Hazing: Gloucestershire adds Nazi uniform to drunken hazing

Link to the Hazing Video

University investigates 'Nazi-style' initiation ceremony by drunken students

By Luke Salkeld and David Wilkes

It is hardly the most edifying moment of their university careers. Wearing plastic bags over their heads and taking orders from a fellow student dressed as a Nazi, they stand in a line vomiting in broad daylight before being frogmarched down a residential street.

Their shocking behaviour is understood to form part of an initiation ceremony which they must undertake before being accepted as members of a university sports team.

The students are believed to be rugby or hockey players – well known within the campus at the University of Gloucestershire for their outrageous behaviour.

Attention: A student in Nazi uniform paces up and down alongside a line of undergraduates wearing bags over their heads in the shock video

Attention: A student in Nazi uniform paces up and down alongside a line of undergraduates wearing bags over their heads in the shock video

The video footage is a great embarrassment to the university, which has claimed to have banned initiation ceremonies among student societies.

It was filmed by student Natalie Sutton, 20, who said she had taken part in similar activities herself before joining the women's hockey team at the university in Cheltenham.

She said she was forced to eat cat food surrounded by fellow students who were crying and throwing up.

Yesterday a spokesman for the university said disciplinary action would be taken against the students when they were identified.