Several committee members of Imperial College Hockey Club (ICHC) and ACC Men’s Rugby were temporarily banned last week, following allegations of misconduct at Freshers’ Trials.
The Freshers’ Trials, which were attended by a number of Imperial sports clubs, took place at Harlington Sports Ground on Wednesday, 4th October. A complaint was raised against ICHC after the trials, including accusations that students damaged the shower heads in the changing rooms, made a slip and slide, covered the 3G (AstroTurf) pitch in flour and alcohol, and urinated on the pitch and Queens Park Rangers Football Club (QPR FC) storage facilities. In an email from Imperial College Union, ICHC were informed that the “serious” complaint alleged that “a high percentage of club members were involved”, particularly in “the urination on another organisation’s storage facilities”.
ACC Men’s Rugby also had a complaint raised against them, but Felix cannot confirm whether the accusations were the same as those against ICHC.
As a result of the complaint, the Union suspended a number of key positions within ICHC, including the Club Captain, Treasurer, Secretary, and all Male Captains, including the Mixed Male Captain. Members of ACC Men’s Rugby were also suspended. Those suspended were unable to carry out their Club roles, attend events, or play for the Club. An interim executive was appointed while the committee members were suspended.
In an email to their mailing list, an ICHC representative described the situation as “difficult”, asked members to be “patient”, and emphasised that “you are a representative of ICHC and therefore Imperial College Union”, reminding them to “conduct yourself in an appropriate manner at all trainings, matches, and social events.” Some members of ICHC posted about the incident on social media channels, using the hashtag #pissgate.
The investigation was led by a number of Union staff, including Tom Bacarese-Hamilton, Deputy President (Clubs and Societies), and its findings passed on to Imperial College Union’s Governance Committee. The investigation has since concluded, and the committee members have been reappointed to their positions.
In a statement, a representative of Imperial College Union told Felix: “Last week we were made aware of inappropriate behaviour displayed by some of our members during Sports Trials on Wednesday 4th October. We received a formal complaint and suspended the student leaders within the relevant clubs, pending investigation. The investigation has now concluded. The students are aware their behaviour was inappropriate and have been sanctioned as well as warned of the increasing consequences of any future misconduct. Our members are ambassadors of the Union and College and we expect them to uphold our values at all times.”
A College spokesperson told Felix: “Imperial College Union has very clear policies and rules in place regarding the behaviour of all members of its clubs and societies. Any breach of these policies and rules is taken very seriously by the College and the Union, and disciplinary action will be taken where necessary. As a result of allegations of misconduct by the ACC Men’s Hockey and ACC Men’s Rugby clubs, the Union suspended several committee members of both clubs pending investigation into the incident. Following the outcome of this, action has been taken by both clubs. Those suspended have now been reinstated.”
ICHC describes itself as “one of the most successful London college hockey clubs in recent years”. They have four men’s teams, two women’s teams, and a mixed team. It was among the most popular sports clubs at Imperial last year, with over 100 members.
Harlington Sports Ground is located near Heathrow Airport. It consists of a number of sporting facilities, including rugby and football pitches, AstroTurf fields, and cricket squares. It is used by student and staff at Imperial, as well as members of the public. QPR FC have used the ground since 2005, when they took it over from Chelsea Football Club. The College claims that the partnership has “brought great benefit to Imperial students through access to QPR FC’s professional coaches”. Money received from a gravel extraction operation at the Harlington playing fields led to the foundation of the Harlington Trust in 1989, which grants funding to clubs, up to the total value of £50,000 a year.
Felix reached out to ICHC and ACC Men’s Rugby, but both were unavailable for comment.