St Hugh’s drinking society has issued a lengthy apology, after both the Principal and JCR criticised their “sexist” event planned for this Friday.
The Black Cygnets came under fire for pidging invitations to a fox hunt themed event, in which female students were encouraged to “evade mauling” before “eventual capture by the huntsmen” in “Wahoo Foxhole”.
Dame Elish Angiolini, Principal of St Hugh’s, labelled the group “repugnant, sexist and secretive”.
The apology, addressed to Dame Angiolini and students, states: “We are writing to express our most sincere apologies for our decision to continue this year with the tradition of the Black Cygnets’ Fox Hunt. It will not take place this year or ever again.”
The society was keen to rebut allegations of sexism, saying: “The event was wholeheartedly intended to be humorous for all involved and not as a trivialisation of women. As such we foolishly assumed that the wording of the invites would be taken in the same spirit both by those who had previously attended and those who had heard about it from others, lazily reusing the inherited format of invitations.
“In retrospect this was obviously negligent on our part and it is hardly surprising that those who were unfamiliar with the actual atmosphere of the event, invited or otherwise, interpreted it as they did.”
The letter, sent by email to the entire JCR, continues: “Everyone currently involved in the society is vehemently opposed to misogyny, sexual violence, rape and the perpetuation of rape culture.”
The society was also critical of the portrayal of the fox hunt event by the “JCR and the student press”: “[They have] present[ed] it as being far more sinister than it is in reality. Although conventionally the two groups in the pub crawl have generally complied with gender division, this is not enforced at the event itself, with male members of the society having run as foxes in previous years and vice versa.
“Additionally, the non-members invited are equally spread across both gender and year group, not selected from amongst first year women. Furthermore the invitation process involves consultation with our friends of both genders, and guests are invited according to whether they would enjoy the pub crawl and not on the basis of sexual attractiveness.”
The letter ends with an appeal for forgiveness from members of St Hugh’s: “Whilst we are aware that this will not reverse the damage done, we hope that the Principal, JCR and the wider College community will accept our apology and support the ending of this backward practise.”
The Black Cygnets have been officially banned from college premises since 2008, and members of the society were reprimanded for breaching that ban in early 2012.