A few weeks ago 30 students were suspended from St John’s College at the University of Sydney for their alleged role in a drinking game that went horribly wrong. They have been accused of taking part in a ritual which left a young woman in hospital with apparent alcohol poisoning. Zoe was part of the inaugural year of women students at St Johns in 2001, and these are her memories of College life.
“I don’t exactly remember the moment I realised life at St John’s College wasn’t for me. Maybe it was after witnessing the spectacle of flaming “man-ginas”, where brutish young Johnians would set alight their pubic hair in front of a bellowing, chanting crowd as some kind of test of their manhood. Maybe it was after watching the beautiful, heritage listed library being drowned in beer and then used as a slip ‘n’ slide as another drunken night in house got underway.
I hadn’t been exposed to bastardisation rituals before going to College, and thankfully, I haven’t been exposed to them since.
As a naïve 17 year old, I packed my bags and left home without looking back – excited to be accepted to St John’s in their first year of taking women students. I was also accepted into the only other co-ed College on campus, but took my chances on this unknown venture – knowing it would be tough, perhaps – but also a chance to be part of history.
Binge drinking was only part of the problem at St John’s, and certainly not unique to that College. Other friends on campus told me of their drinking rituals, which involved swimming the length of a pool, downing a shot of alcohol, then swimming another length before eating something disgusting – a raw egg, or a dry weetbix – the challenge was to see how long one could continue before vomiting. A former boss of mine was an Old Boy at another College, and gained the moniker “Toxic” – for the taste of his vomit. Not his judgement on contents of his stomach, but his fellow Collegiate mates who would drink enough to throw up, then taste each others sick. I’m sure their parents would be proud.