Editorial: Is this a Dunedin Initiation or a CIA Blacksite Torture Method?

Editorial: Is this a Dunedin Initiation or a CIA Blacksite Torture Method?

Flat initiations are 20 years old at best. You know what else is 20 years old? Enhanced interrogation techniques designed by CIA crackpots in the wake of 9/11. They like to go out, abduct suspected terrorists and then torture them for weeks in secret locations on foreign soil. The tactics used (the whole programme, really) were kept secret until leaks in the mid ‘10s, and once out in the open, shit hit the fan - quick. And as we’ve covered this year’s intense initiation season, I’ve realised that the tactics used to “get together for a good bit of fun” are literally the exact same as those used to torture “the worst of humanity”. Let’s see if you can tell them apart. Which of these happened in a Dunedin initiation, and which happened in a CIA Blacksite? Which happened in both?


Subjects were…

  1. Shaved

  2. Waterboarded

  3. Deprived of sleep for up to a week

  4. Forced to stand naked against a wall

  5. Had a bag secured on their head and then beaten

  6. Crammed into coffin-sized boxes

  7. Crammed into coffin-sized boxes filled with a gas

  8. Subjected to “rectal rehydration”

  9. Forced to consume vomit

  10. Forced to consume faeces

  11. Used for sexual gain

  12. Urinated on

  13. Killed


Bonus round! Does this come from news coverage of Blacksites or initiations?


  1. A bunch of videos of [event] are deleted after the group gets in trouble with [authority]. They delete the videos ahead of investigation, because the penalty for that “is nothing compared to what it would be if the [videos were posted]... out of context they would make us look terrible.”

  2. [One of the abusers] said it was “tough to watch in places.” 

  3. “The [subject] was found unresponsive, on his stomach with bubbles frothing from his mouth.”

And here are some recent highlights: one girl was forced to drink a slurry of vodka and shellfish juice. She’s allergic to shellfish, so she brought her epi-pen and immediately used it. Last year, a boy was blinded when a frozen egg was thrown in his eye. Another girl refused to do a cigarette race, so she was pinned down and had her eyebrows shaved. She’d lost a family member to lung cancer. Another group of girls was made to chain smoke inside wheelie bins, which then (surprise!) filled with carbon monoxide and one of them passed out. To help her out, her mates knocked her bin around with her inside. I saw videos of boys getting straight-up beaten by mates who’ll be passing them a beer ten minutes later. I saw videos of people being forced to drink 20 standards in 20 minutes, then vomiting into each other’s mouths. 

But here’s the thing: they all “want” to do this. It’s voluntary. Adults in the safety of their own homes. But I just have a really hard time believing that this “want” is genuine. I believe that if you’ve gone through it, you want to do it to someone else. I believe that you want to have a strong group of friends. I believe that you want approval and want to show off. But I don’t believe that you want to be doing this - because if you did, you wouldn’t have a problem with the fact that I’ve got you on video committing a violent crime. 

This is not student culture. It’s 20 years old, tops. And it’ll either stop when - like with the CIA - you kill someone and the world watches, or when you all decide to reel your fucking heads in and find a better way to do group bonding. You can bitch and moan about me covering your initiations, but when someone dies, that’s gonna be a pretty cringe take to look back on.

I’m sick of this bullshit. I’m sick of the bad name you’re giving Dunedin, and I’m sick of seeing year after year of genuinely good people do the most depraved shit you’ve ever seen. There is no way someone in that initiation can say “no” - I know, I’ve been there. And you act like it’s so unfair that the media is focusing on you, that you’re gonna pay the consequences for a “tradition” that nobody else got in trouble for. Tough shit. You chose to engage in literal torture, and you’re either gonna own up to that or you’re gonna go home. Hopefully not in a box.





1. Both, 2. Both, 3. CIA, 4. Both, 5. Both, 6. Both, 7. Dunedin, 8. Both, 9. Dunedin, 10. Dunedin, 11. Dunedin, 12. Both, 13. CIA (for now). Bonus round: 1. CIA, 2. CIA, 3. CIA.

This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2023.
Posted 1:18pm Sunday 8th October 2023 by Fox Meyer.