The controversial student pub-crawls ‘Carnage’ are facing national criticism as some universities have moved to block the drink-fuelled events.
Carnage UK, the party organisation that plans the pub-crawls, received unwelcome headlines after a 19-year-old was pictured ending his night out by urinating on a war memorial. Philip Laing, a student at Sheffield Hallam University, has been told he faces a possible jail sentence after admitting the offence of outraging public decency.
The popular nights out run by Carnage UK involve a theme, like ‘Doctors and Nurses’, and a t-shirt which costs £10 is worn, guaranteeing free entry into the bars and clubs of the night. This past weekend, more than 300 ‘Beauties and Geeks’ attended the second Carnage UK event in Liverpool this semester.
The concern, reflected in a wave of negative publicity in the national media, is that these events and others like it encourage irresponsible drinking.
It is estimated that Carnage UK plans drinking events for an estimated 350,000 undergraduate students in over 45 cities and towns each year.
Richard Budden, vice-president of the National Union of Students, said: "They take students on pub crawls that degrade the participants, put students' welfare at risk and lead to antisocial behaviour. They make their money and then disappear."
Lily Marks, 19, a first year theatre student at JMU, said: “These nights are so much fun. It’s all in the name... it’s absolute carnage. That’s the point of it though; going out, dressing up and getting smashed. It’s part of being at uni.”
Many Student Unions around the country have already banned the events from taking place and it is expected that more will follow.
Lily Rumsey, Liverpool Student Union’s Vice President of Activities, said: “We don’t have anything to do with Carnage. We do not allow them onsite to promote, advertise or sell tickets. We believe pub crawls pose a threat to members and promote irresponsible drinking. They are also very difficult to police and steward due to the large numbers involved.”
Varsity Leisure Group, which owns Carnage UK, denies it encourages irresponsible drinking.
A spokesman of the company said: "Varsity Leisure Group does not promote binge drinking nor does it promote drinking to dangerous levels. Student Unions do not like Carnage UK events because they clearly compete with their own, less well-resourced events."
However, those who have attended the nights claim it is almost impossible not to get caught up in the spirit of over-indulgence.
John Thomas, 21, a politics student at University of Liverpool, said: "You’re expected to go out and get at least one drink in each place, but usually the bars are so packed that you’ll get two or three drinks at once to avoid queuing up again later. Before you’ve properly got settled and started drinking it’s time to go to the next place, so you have to finish your drinks and follow the crowd. They’re not forcing drink down your throat but it’s just part of the night.”
Among universities and cities that have banned the event are Bath Spa University, Bangor, Loughborough and Leicester.
By Sam Rogers, Website Editor
Carnage UK organisers charge £10 to take students out on popular themed drinking events