New Women’s Officer criticised for “clearly loaded” survey on drinking societies

Stevie Hertz 10 September 2015

The CUSU Women’s Campaign has come under fire for creating a “clearly loaded” survey on drinking societies. Although the final question allows for positive responses, asking about “perceptions” of drinking societies, the survey prompts responders three times directly about “negative experiences”, while never asking about positive ones.

In response to criticisms, Charlotte Chorley, CUSU Women’s Officer, told The Cambridge Student, “We're responding to anecdotes and messages relating to negative experiences of drinking societies and wanted to get a sense of other people's negative experiences (if any).

"The questions are framed in such a way as to get people to open up about these experiences, and if people have positive ones, there is the space to discuss those too.”

The Women’s Campaign received criticism from students online, across a number of college freshers' Facebook groups. 

One male second year student, who is not a member of a drinking society, commented to TCS: “The questions are clearly loaded and designed to produce a negative response. I can't help but think that any comments left will be twisted and misquoted to support whatever complaint the Women's Officer has.”

A screenshot from the survey, showing the negative questions. 

One female student, similarly commented: "As a member of a drinking society, when I saw that the survey was being conducted I was excited to fill it out and share my point of view.

"That excitement died out as soon as I saw the loaded questions – all they wanted was to hear horror stories. The Women's Campaign don't appear to care about unearthing people's true perceptions"

Some students have defended the Women’s Campaign, with one female second year saying: “The impact of drinking societies on Cambridge should be investigated – especially considering their connections to misogynistic and homophobic behaviour. But I admit this might not be the way to do it. Not least because bias[ed] questions won't help a dialogue further down the line”

The survey comes after drinking societies made the national press once again this year, when the Wyverns threatened to bring back jelly wrestling to their annual garden party.