The University of Birmingham’s hockey team have been banned from Sports Night after a series of complaints were made against the club
The ban extends until Christmas. This follows a survey initiated by the Guild of Students, which filed a series of complaints against the club.
In an internal memo obtained by Redbrick, it was found that a ‘number of underlying social issues are present within our club’, such as ‘intimidation, sexual harassment and bullying’. The University is currently investigating the club in regard to these problems.
Redbrick spoke to the Guild’s Sports Officer Simon Price, who said: ‘Upon hearing of incidents from Guild security following the first sports night of term, I worked with the Mental Health and Well-Being Society to produce an initial feedback form to receive responses anonymously in regards to club initiations/welcome drinks. While it has been upsetting to hear of this behaviour from a minority of clubs, the majority of feedback was positive, with new members feeling welcomed into their club.’
The club’s committee said in the memo, ‘we are wholeheartedly sorry for the previous behaviour of the club. Moving forward there will be more considerate and supportive behaviour.’
The club has released a set of improvements they will make after signing a Social Policy and Disciplinary Process document. One of these being ‘no member should feel pressurised or intimidated to drink, eat or do anything against their will’. They have also stated that ‘every member appreciates that a happy and thriving club results from everyone working together.’
Redbrick spoke to a final year English Literature student about the club, who said: ‘I think it’s a good thing that the actions of the society are being investigated, because it gives a bad name to hockey in general.’
The hockey club is also introducing a ‘hockey specific survey’ where individuals’ views will be heard, and a number of questions answered, as ‘we need to work together to improve the atmosphere of the socials to ensure that every single member of the club feels included, valued and able to speak up.’
A ‘club-wide charity’ is now being introduced, to raise money for the mental health charity Caring Minds, after it was found that the club’s initiations were having detrimental effects on students’ mental health. From doing so, the club hopes that ‘there will be more considerate and supportive behaviour within the club.’
Earlier this year, Redbrick News investigated sports night initiations and the social side of Birmingham sport. In a survey, it was found that 46.6% of students had been dissuaded from joining a sport due to the renowned ritual of ‘welcome drinks’ or initiations.
As part of the investigation, Redbrick conducted a number of interviews with those involved with sport at UoB. It was clear that alcohol consumption was a key part of socialising and initiations.
UB Sport also spoke to Redbrick, stating ‘The University of Birmingham has clear policies, support and training in place for student sports clubs that aim to avoid anti-social behaviour during social events. Club Committees are made fully aware by accepting a code of conduct and declaration form stating that pressured environments involving excessive alcohol consumption and other potentially unsafe or unreasonable behaviour are not tolerated under any circumstance, and will have serious repercussions if they do take place within clubs.
‘The University of Birmingham strongly believes in the inclusivity of sport, as well as the positive effect it should have on well being, and there is no place for anti-social behaviour in our clubs.’
The University’s hockey club will be reviewed after Christmas, to assess the extent of its behavioural improvements.