As new students around the world arrive at university a variety of welcomes await them from the sublimely ridiculous to the ridiculously dangerous. We present a global selection of the good, the bad and the ugly.
At Roskilde University the Marbjergmark show welcomes ruslings (Freshers) on to their train from Copenhagen with a series of offbeat sketch shows including one eye-opening naked chess spectacle. Then eggs are thrown at the bystanders.
The Aussies mark their first student steps with Orientation or O-Week. Activities are similar to our own in the UK with parties, bands and the chance to sign up to societies. However some universities such as Adelaide open up their events to non-students too, with their O-Ball becoming a community occasion.
Nollning, the Swedish orientation period, is run by the Swedish National Union of Students, which have strict rules against excessive drinking and sexual abuse to combat hazing. Theatricality, on the other hand, is enthusiastically encouraged with many imaginative pranks being carried out from cross-dressing to offering a leg-shave to the passing students. The nolla, or year zero starters, graduate to etta (first year students) after a three-course meal, ceremony and after party.
South East Asia
The vast majority of Freshers’ weeks in this part of the world are smoothly run with students enjoying a safe, fun environment. But sadly the odd tragedy does crop up in the news, including this August when a 19-year-old student of the University of Makati was found dead in a ravine after a fraternity initiation.
Cliff Muntu, an Indonesian student at the Institute for Public Administration in Jakarta, was savagely beaten to death in 2007 and his college tried to cover up the incident. His was the eighteenth violent death at the university since it was established twenty years ago. Students have reported being verbally abused, forced to eat mud and made to drink the spit of senior students.
Pranks, dares and boozy house parties are both a stereotype and a reality of Orientation Week from across the pond. Officially hazing is banned at many colleges however even as recently as February this year members of a sorority at Rutgers University, New Jersey were accused of beating and starving their “pledges”.
A 2008 study of 53 colleges found that 55% of students had experienced some form of hazing though most did not identify it as harmful. Having said this nearly half the students interviewed had experienced hazing before college which suggests that freshman orientation is just a focal point of a much greater social problem.
There has been a strong drinking culture across the country for a number of years now and serious incidents do occur from time to time. However in recent years there has been somewhat of a crackdown on the notorious rituals that the media have so eagerly condemned.
Southampton is no different and there remains a blanket ban on all initiations.