07 May Cambridge University: Caesarean Sunday gathering ‘slap in the face’
Cambridge University has condemned a mass gathering of students on a city green as a “slap in the face”.
Despite Covid-19 restrictions allowing gatherings of no more than six people, hundreds gathered on Jesus Green on Sunday for “Caesarean Sunday”.
In a message to all students, seen by the BBC, vice-chancellor Prof Stephen Toope said “gathering in such numbers… is deeply irresponsible”.
The BBC has contacted the university for further comment.
Caesarean Sunday has become a traditional spring celebration for some students – often involving fancy dress, drinking and wrestling – but in the past local residents have complained about them urinating in public, stripping off and bad language.
Cambridge had 27 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people in the week between 26 April and 2 May, above the average of 16 for England.
The message to students, signed by Prof Toope and Dr Anthony Freeling, chair of the colleges committee, said the university had “many reasons to be proud of students’ response to the pandemic”.
But it added: “It is precisely because student behaviour has so far been exemplary that the mass student gathering on Jesus Green this past Sunday was so disappointing.
“It took place in contravention of the explicit advice from colleges.
“It was in clear breach of all the public health measures designed to prevent the transmission of disease.
“It was a slap in the face for everyone in the city of Cambridge, including the majority of our students, who continue to abide by Covid-related restrictions.”
The letter acknowledged that the event was attended by “only by a small fraction of our student population”, but said it had “seriously tarnished our students’ hard-won reputation as good citizens”.
It asked students to continue participating in the university’s asymptomatic screening programme and to “stringently observe the guidelines that are in place for your protection, and for the protection of the wider community”.
A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman confirmed the force had “officers on patrol for an event in Cambridge which resulted in a large number of students gathering on Jesus Green”.
“Officers engaged with those involved as well as representatives from the University of Cambridge. Where necessary, they explained the current Covid-19 regulations and encouraged people to comply,” he added.
“No fixed penalty notices were given and no arrests were made.”