An analysis of fresher’s initiations

freshersI read a disturbing piece in The Times on Saturday about some of the antics that will go on in Fresher’s week at Universities all around the country. Events and initiations will include ‘whores and pimps’ parties, pull a pig competitions (where lads compete to pull the largest ugliest girl they can find for ‘humour’), traffic light parties (where the colour you where indicates availability for sex), nakedness, funnels, and all manner of other ‘fun’.

But what’s really going on here? Why do people do this stuff? Is it just all a bit of harmless high jinx – a normal rite of passage for any student?

I’m not so sure. I’m no killjoy, but I think there’s something stranger going on with all this. Rites and rituals, marking entry into a community or significant events, are nothing new. They enact and therefore enforce the message of the community.

But what’s the message for Freshers? Your status, identity, and value within the new community requires you to submit to those who have gone before. The outrageous nature of what is asked demonstrates the requirement of absolute submission to the existing culture and ‘authorities’. For you to ‘know your place’ you must be shamed and degraded. And the best way to do that is to make you drunk and display your shame and nakedness. Strange, no?

In the Bible these sorts of images are used in the prophets to speak of God’s judgement against enemies. Societies and unions that encourage (coerce) excessive drunkenness, promiscuity, nakedness, shame, and degradation aren’t your friends. They are antagonists playing God. Now, we all do this. The Fall means that relationships are broken down with respect to God and respect to others. It’s just that the symptoms of this disease manifest at Universities are blatant and crude. If you’re a fresher do yourself and your peers a favour. Stay a million miles away from these kinds of events.

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