Underage drinking at Oxford University ‘Lash’ Club

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Oxford University’s Labour Club has come under fire after serving alcohol to an underage student, at an event held in Corpus Christi College on Monday evening.

At least one Corpus fresher, aged 17, was given alcohol at the event, held to launch the club’s 2015 General Election campaign. The underage student repeatedly vomited on College property after drinking cocktails provided by the club, and was unable to walk. He has since been disciplined by College authorities.

One senior member of OULC was also required to have a meeting with the College Dean Robin Murphy, for failing to check the ages of students being served.

The event, held to launch a new OULC commitment to 2,015 hours of campaigning before the May General Election, was attended by the Labour MP for Oxford East Andrew Smith, as well as the Labour candidate for Reading West, Vicky Groulef.

Charging £3 entry, the event provided unlimited cocktails, all named after senior Labour figures, including ‘Peachy Mandelson’, ‘Tonic Benn’, and ‘Tory Sex Scandal on the Beach’.

The Oxford Student understands that the OULC members working behind the bar were unaware that any underage students were present.

Corpus Christi has since taken action to ensure that underage students are not again served alcohol on college premises, with photographs of all college members aged under-18 placed in the college bar.

According to those present at the event, the underage Corpus fresher shouted ‘Vote Labour’, ran around the college garden, and recited Latin after becoming intoxicated.

OUSU Welfare Officer Chris Pike voiced criticism of OULC for declining to check the ages of students being served alcohol. He said: “Of course, organisers of any event including alcohol should ensure that those in attendance are legally allowed to drink there; we musn’t assume that students are over 18, just as we musn’t assume that students are below a certain age.”

Pike continued: “Every event must do what it can to ensure the welfare of those in attendance, and this includes, for events including alcohol, making sure that nobody is provided with or sold too much booze – whether or not they’re over 18.”

In an official policy on the ‘misuse of alcohol’, Oxford University claims it is “concerned to try to make students aware of the potentially harmful effects of excessive drinking”.

The statement continues: “Depending on individual circumstances, unruly behaviour caused by excessive drinking […] may lead to disciplinary action under university or college codes.”

One OULC member present at Monday evening’s event, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “The organisers of our drink events should definitely make sure all the students are old enough – we often have MPs and other public figures who could be embarrassed by a thing like this getting out. That said, a 17-year-old getting drunk is hardly the worst political scandal in the University’s history. If you want to find genuinely sordid antics go and hang out with Oxford’s Tories.”

Recently the national Labour Party announced policies to crackdown on underage drinking, with Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham advocating the prohibition of cheap super-sized bottles of cider.

At Monday evening’s event, Labour MP Andrew Smith criticised coalition policies for putting thousands into poverty and creating “food bank Britain”. He urged the members present to join the club’s campaigning efforts in the coming months.

OULC and Corpus Christi College have both declined our requests for comment.

IMAGE/Hannah Lovell

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