By ANDREW LEVY
There's more to life than books, you know: Daring student 'Meredith' poses in the prestigious University Library
They are the cream of the academic crop, the brightest young minds in Britain.
But when it comes to extracurricular activities, these Cambridge students appear to have hit rock bottom. While their predecessors have amassed dozens of Nobel prizes and other intellectual accolades, the current crop of undergraduates is focusing on a rather less taxing competition – rear of the year.
Female students at the university have submitted risque photographs of their behinds in the hope of clinching the title.
They insist it is innocent fun – and male classmates are quick to agree – but critics have accused them of harming the feminist cause and the university’s reputation. The pictures have been sent to independent student website The Tab by women using pseudonyms and hiding their faces from the camera to protect their identities. Each gives a brief tongue-in-cheek biography with her photograph. While other students are using the university library to revise for their impending exams, one going by the name of Meredith stripped down to her underwear to be pictured on tiptoe taking a book from a shelf.
Rear view: Competition entrant 'Bella' wore a black pair of knickers to match her top, but not a lot else
The Wolfson College undergraduate jokes she ‘lures unsuspecting students’ into the labyrinth of shelves where they are relieved of their wallets by ‘heavies’.
Bella, who poses in frilly knickers and nude stilettos with her long dark hair tumbling down over a tight-fitting jumper, said: ‘The trick to looking good in knickers is to wear high heels.’
Leila sports see-through white pants with beige trim, while Lynette is seen in her digs wearing a ‘dark-elf dominatrix’ outfit of black leggings with a festive rosette.
Elizabeth, from Homerton College, whose alumni include actress Cherie Lunghi, claims her ‘first sexual thoughts were of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’.
The entrants were found through ‘word of mouth’ at the university and the photos sent in through anonymous email accounts. Student women’s officer Ruth Graham, 23, said: ‘As members of the Cambridge community, we have a responsibility to speak out against the portrayal of women as sex objects, given that extensive research by bodies such as the UN and the End Violence Against Women coalition has repeatedly identified links between these portrayals and attitudes that underpin violence and discrimination.’
Leggy: The fifth contestant, named 'Lynette', opted for high heels and a shiny gold bow on her bottom
A university source added: ‘We can’t stop what they’re doing but it would be fair to say we don’t approve of it. It is not the kind of image we would want to project.’ Male students were generous in their praise, however. Comments posted online included: ‘High-definition pics from multiple angles would’ve provided a better comparison.’ Another, referring to The Tab’s rear of the year competition for men which was launched in April, said: ‘The boys’ bums were naked – this isn’t fair!’
And ‘Leila’ joined the debate herself, saying: ‘It’s given me a bit of a confidence boost. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with feminism really. I certainly wasn’t trying to make a point, nor do I think I’m being objectified by men.’
The Tab’s editor Joe Bates, 20, who is reading music at Gonville and Caius, defended the contest as a ‘bit of fun’ and said the men’s rear of the year competition destroyed accusations of ‘anti-feminism’.
Students have been voting for their favourite male and female bottoms and results will be revealed today.
A Cambridge University spokesman refused to comment.
Centre of excellence: The university library, where one of the daring pictures was taken
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