The Dean of St Anne’s College summoned all students who traveled on the Varsity ski trip after widespread media attention threatened to bring the College and the University into disrepute.
The trip recently received coverage in national newspapers, and even the Italian and American national press, with some publishing photos of semi-naked students on the slopes of Val Thorens.
Revelations of the antics of students during the Valley Rally, a competition to win a five-star skiing holiday to Austria, came to light when luxury travel operator Scott Dunn withdrew its sponsorship of the trip. Students reportedly ate “yellow snow” and stripped on the slopes covered with pasta sauce and chocolate.
The new developments came after St Anne’s College, where the winning team are students, was specifically mentioned in several articles.
No action had been taken prior to this, as the trip has no official affiliation with the University. It is believed that St Anne’s is the only college to have initiated any disciplinary procedures at this point.
On Monday evening the Dean met with all those who took part in the trip. One student feared that a group punishment would be dealt out “even to those who were not involved in the Valley Rally”, but the meeting is understood to have focused on “positive things that came out of the trip which could be relayed to the Fellows rather than [giving] them a telling off”.
Another St Anne’s student added: “it was more a chance to talk rather than anything disciplinary, so that the Dean could represent the trip in a balanced way to the higher authorities within College. She was very reasonable.”
No punishments have been dealt out as of yet, although the four students in the winning team were reportedly “talked to separately” after the meeting. Another student understands that the group were told they had “violated a condition of not bringing the college into disrepute” and were likely to face disciplinary action.
At this stage there has been no indication of what the form or extent of this punishment is likely to be.
Those who attended were requested not to discuss the Valley Rally itself with fellow students and another student said: “The guys who went on Varsity were told [by the Dean] just to emphasise the good points about the ski trip.”
The Dean’s Office at St Anne’s College offered no statement regarding the Monday meeting, and one student suggested: “they just want to play the whole thing down.”
Students themselves have also criticised the “press’s continuing attack which blows the entire trip out of all proportion”.
The annual holiday, which takes place at the end of Michaelmas Term, is the oldest and largest student-run trip of its kind in the world, running since 1922 and with 2,500 skiers this year. It is equally famous for its parties, drinking and debauchery as it is for its skiing and snowboarding, although the attention this year’s events have garnered is unprecedented. Neither Oxford nor Cambridge has issued a statement on the situation.