The move was prompted by a “large number” of complaints from residents, ranging from abandoned boats on the grasslands, blocked local roads and rudeness to residents, the college said.
A King’s College spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, Grantchester Meadows has become a frequent site for large gatherings of people entering the River Cam under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, and subsequently requiring emergency medical assistance.
“Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that this not only causes significant problems for the emergency services, but also results in serious risk to life. As such, it would be irresponsible of the College to continue to encourage swimming in an area where it is not safe to do so.
Council officials have expressed “serious concerns” about erosion of river banks and public trails affecting natural habitat. Signs will be put up to deter swimmers and patrols will guard the area, a letter from the advisers said.
“City against dress”
But the move sparked a furious backlash, with thousands signing a petition demanding free access to the river and a public consultation.
Camila Islay, a regular swimmer who started the petition, criticized “the drastic action” which “would shut down traditions dear to the people of Cambridge and stifle our connection to its beautiful natural surroundings”.
“The closure would deprive new generations of the sense of well-being and enjoyment that the river brings in the only accessible place where you can swim away from traffic and infrastructure,” she said.
“The way it’s been presented is a lot like the dress rejecting the city, which is not a useful or constructive approach for a progressive city, especially at a time in history where we aim to build a better one.” new normal “.”
Social media users called the ban “illiberal”, “authoritarian” and “unenforceable”.
King’s College said it had no desire to prevent enjoyable pastimes in the River Cam, but could not consent to the activities continuing in their current state.
This is the latest installment of Britain’s elite universities grappling with the concern of nearby residents.
Last September, Oxford asked students to sign an ‘anti-party charter’ to deal with noise and Covid complaints, which made it clear that they were not to host parties in college accommodation or rented houses. by individuals, and “show respect” for residents.