No more fun and games for Christ Church

The Junior Censor at Christ Church has banned drinking games in college and is set to review subject drinks following repeated excessive alcohol consumption. Subject drinks this term caused multiple students to throw up while one was hospitalised.

In an email sent to Junior members of the college, the Censor alerted students to the potential dangers of drinking games and stipulated that taking part in such activities would be regarded as a serious disciplinary offence. The warning was reiterated by JCR President George Greenwood in his weekly notices, who also revealed the intention of the Censor to adjust the format of subject drinks next year.

The Junior Censor David Nowell said [in an email to students]: “It has come to my attention that a number of ‘drinking games’ have taken place recently.  The sole purpose appears to have been to get people drunk and/or to embarrass them.” He concluded that these games “should have no place in a community such as Christ Church.” In his email notices, Greenwood also informed students: “[the censors] have decided to review subject drinks, and it looks like they will insist on a different format next year.”

The ban on drinking games has caused outrage and defiance among many students. A second year PPEist said: “What the censors don’t know is that every time they send round an email reminding us that drinking games are irresponsible and outlawed, we make all the freshers take a shot. Joke’s on them (the censors and freshers) really.” A fresher also explained: “The ban is, I think, unenforceable, which makes it less respected within college.”

Greenwood agrees that the ban will be challenging for the Censors to impose. He said: “Given the private nature of such games when completed among friends, I believe that enforcement will prove to be very difficult, if not next to impossible, without seriously infringing on students’ civil liberties.” He added: “While I understand the well-intentioned motivation to prevent especially freshers from being under a social compulsion to drink heavily and become very ill, I think given the lack of this compulsion element in such games when conducted among friends, that the decision goes too far.”

However, the review of subject drinks looks to address what is reported to be a more apparent drinking culture surrounding such events. One fresher explained that this year: “subject drinks involved a lot of vomiting both before, during and after dinner – and almost nobody made it out afterwards to the club.” She said that while they were a “great time to get to know your subject group,” students “definitely weren’t warned, of how things might pan out.” This appears to be an issue that reoccurs annually; it is reported that several students end up in hospital following subject drinks each year. When questioned about such problems, the Dean Christopher Lewis said: “Christ Church, in common with other areas of society, has had some experience of alcohol being used inappropriately.”

Such issues reflect a wider problem across the city. This year’s Local Alcohol Profile for England produced by Liverpool John Moores University’s Centre for public health revealed that Oxford has the worst binge drinking problem in the South East region.