risque video
The students are seen in black masks and formal wear, seductively prancing about the woods. Source: Shutterstock.com

The University of Cambridge has forced students to remove what college dons called an “overly sexualised” promotional video for the annual Hughes Hall May Ball.

The college even threatened to cancel the ball amid fears it could paint a negative picture of the institution.

The risqué video played to the ball’s theme of ‘Forest of Sin’; it is set almost entirely in woodland with apples on hand to tempt students to sin – a key representative of sin from the Bible.

The video also contained strong references to popular literary erotica and now-famous film franchise 50 Shades of Grey. The trailer shows students in black tie and gowns, faces covered by black lace masks and Beyoncé’s slow and sultry version of Crazy in Love – recorded for the 50 Shades Darker film – playing in the background.

The trailer showed students suggestively beckoning a young woman to join them, tempting her with a red apple which she eventually bites, all the while pouring champagne down each other’s throats, stroking each other and kissing each other’s necks.

The evening is designed to allow students to de-stress after exam season, yet while the committee claimed the clip was “fun”, university officials disagreed.


The video has since been removed from the May ball’s website after the complaints from university officials.

“The college has a duty of care to its students, including their online welfare, and had understandable concerns about the nature and content of the May ball trailer,” a spokesperson for Hughes Hall told The Tab.

“The student May ball committee kindly agreed to remove the video from the May ball website and social media until we are able to have a more detailed discussion with committee members.”

According to The Tab  students were encouraged on the ball’s Facebook to “abandon yourself to your guilty pleasures enjoying a range of sultry burlesque and pole dance performances”.

One of the presidents of Hughes Hall May ball, Georgia Ziebart, explained the video was not intended to create a scandal.

Ziebart told The Tab: “The trailer was removed because college thought it was overly sexualised and may reflect badly on them.

“While we thought the trailer was sexy and fun, it appears we may have overstepped the mark and therefore agreed to take it down.”

However, not all the students were so keen to take the trailer down.

“If the college take issue with the video, they should be promoting discussion about it, not censoring it and trying to cover it up,” one of the trailer’s producers Joe Cook told The Tab.

“Fortunately, hundreds of people had already watched the video and I’m sure the Hughes Hall May Ball will be a great event despite this unfortunate censorship,” he said.


There are no plans to change the theme of the event, however the trailer is likely to be reshot before the ball is due to take place in mid-June.

“We have a meeting with college on Monday in order to resolve the issue, and hope not to aggravate the situation anymore,” Ziebart said.

Early bird tickets costing £79 (US$110) have already sold out, with second release tickets now on sale for £96 (US$133).

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