Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Ed Farmer: Expel students who defy initiations ban, says dad

Students who defy university rules to organise alcohol-heavy “initiation” events should be kicked out, according to the father of a student who died.

Ed Farmer
Ed Farmer

Ed Farmer, 20, went into cardiac arrest after a bar crawl organised by a Newcastle university student society.

His father, Jeremy, told BBC Radio 4’s Today he had been expected to consume large quantities of spirits.

Mr Farmer wants students to understand that binge drinking could be lethal and says such “coercive” rituals must end.

Brain damage

According to his dad, Ed, from Leicester, had a big smile, and liked to have a pint.

But as a new student in an initiation ritual for the student agricultural society, he was expected to drink large amounts of spirits.

The inquest into his death heard rounds of more than 100 triple vodkas were ordered during the evening out in Newcastle.

Mr Farmer said for £30 the freshers were able to buy more than 50 shots each. Bottles of spirits were also passed around in the street. A delay in taking Ed to hospital after he passed out at a student house led to irreversible brain damage and his death.

Brain damage

He described how he first knew something was wrong when a police car arrived at their house early in the morning.

“When the police had left the house I was 99% certain that he would be a cabbage. Helen, my wife, was more optimistic,” he said.

“But certainly when we got up to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, they did say that he was in a very serious state. They’d done a brain scan and the brain was dead.

“So our reaction was well, in that case, turn him off. There is no point in keeping him alive.”

‘Line in the sand’

Mr Farmer said nobody had admitted responsibility during the inquest.

“We certainly don’t blame the students who were part of the initiation process,” he said. “I think we don’t ultimately blame the university.

“It’s just a lack of understanding on the university’s part of the problem that they have got and I think it’s been quite a shock to them to understand the seriousness of the problem.”

Mr Farmer said initiation ceremonies were banned at universities across the country but the ban was not being implemented.

He pressed for a “line in the sand” to be drawn so that “from here on in everybody knows initiations are banned and if you step over that line you will be removed from university”. BBC