The University of Surrey's Men's Rugby Team has been demoted from a 'Club' to a 'Sport' over group misconduct, as was announced in an email to all Students' Union club and society members on Tuesday.
The email outlined how on the 2nd of March, the Surrey Students' Union were informed of a series of allegations concerning the misconduct of some member of Men's Rugby. Two days later a formal investigation was launched by the University's Security team that has since uncovered several breaches of code of conduct for Team Surrey members.
Multiple university students have since been sanctioned following the circulation of 14 video clips taken at a clandestine rugby initiation ceremony held at the start of semester one. 12 students have been found guilty of major misconduct with 17 additional charges of minor misconduct, including the consumption of urine, drugs and performing degrading sex acts.
An ex-student has spoken to The Sun concerning the incident, describing the initiation ceremonies as "disgusting" and "utterly shocking". They additionally stated that "the rugby club members were at the heart of this investigation."
When The Stag contacted the club about the situation earlier this week, members refused to comment, stating clearly their disaffiliation with Men's Rugby.
Despite this refusal, this morning a post on the university's confessions page, SurreyFess, attempted to explain the "misinformation" that had been spread about the investigation into the Men's Rugby initiations. The anonymous student wrote that these initiations were "completely optional" and advertised with a "'you can say no' slogan repeated more than once". Whether or not this post was from member of Men's Rugby is uncertain, and this comment does not represent the views of the team as a whole.
Once it was identified that the Rugby committee were aware of the ongoing behaviour, the Activity Zone of the Students' Union decided to demote Rugby from Club to Sport status for the foreseeable future. VP Activity and President-elect, Lizzie Rodulson clarified what this meant for Surrey Rugby players going forward.
"This decision has been taken them [Rugby] from a student led committee to a Surrey Sports Park led sport", Rodulson told The Stag, meaning members of staff will be responsible for monitoring and supervising their actions as well as any promotion of the club.
"Alongside this, it enables those students that were not involved with the social side of the club and were just there for the sport to be able continue playing rugby." It was also stated that new measures have been put in place to ensure that no social activities develop, such as the prohibition of partaking in events led by the Students' Union.
Although it is not the first time extreme university initiations have warranted legal intervention, Surrey's refusal to condone these unlawful acts sets a clear example of anti-tolerance to other universities throughout the UK.