St Albans Oxford student fights sexist uni society
PUBLISHED: 09:40 21 November 2013 | UPDATED: 09:40 21 November 2013
History has repeated itself in a St Albans family where two generations have now fought sexism at elite Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Carenza Harvey, the former head girl of Sandringham School, has been at the forefront of a move to close down an aggressively sexist Oxford University drinking club.
Weeks after starting at Oxford the 18 year old was horrified to receive an invitation from a secret drinking society, the Black Cygnets, which was designed to be flattering to first year students.
Printed on expensive paper and explicitly offered only to the prettiest new freshers, mostly aged just 18, those invited were instructed to dress as foxes in order to take part in a hard-drinking pub crawl.
Members of the Black Cygnets would “pick up their scent”, attempt to “maul” and capture them.
Disgusted at the vile request Carenza, who is studying history and has a particular interest in the suffragettes, successfully proposed a motion to have the society dissociated.
Carenza told the Herts Advertiser she had been horrified at receiving the “sexist, predatory and animalistic” invitation.
“She has been overwhelmed by support from fellow students and the wider community for speaking out against the group, which she labelled a “minority”.
Her father, Nigel Harvey, said he was “very proud she is willing to stand up for what she believes in.”
And Carenza’s mum, Clare Harvey, said she identified “hugely” with her daughter.
As the first woman in her family to go to university, Clare said that while at Girton College, Cambridge, she too encountered sexism among a minority of men.
Clare said feminists thwarted an attempt by a private dining society to hire women mud-wrestlers to perform for them.
She added: “It saddens me that, a generation later, she is still fighting the same battles we fought.”
The Black Cygnets have been strongly criticised by principal of St Hugh’s, Dame Elish Angiolini, the former Lord Advocate of Scotland, who said the group was treated “with contempt by the overwhelming majority of St Hugh’s students”.
Dame Elish said the college was “utterly appalled that any member of our community would consider belonging to or participating in this repugnant, sexist and secretive group.
“This group is already banned from our college.”
She added: “Any student involved in the distribution of material of this kind, or participation in any of this group’s activities, will be subject to the college’s disciplinary procedures.”
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