A campus culture of drinking is at serious risk of extinction

Finally, we have our own miniature Carnage to fret over. Not content with letting, first, The Sun (and shortly after every single other news outlet seeking some easy yellow journalism) dominate the stakes of questionable student drinking habits, the otherwise unheard of Langwith Punch is the perfect time for our University the chance to shine. “What a mess!” we’ll say. Anybody over the age of forty will label the whole thing and anyone caught with an Apple VK in their hand a disgrace. At some point, someone will surely vomit on something dramatic. Maybe that Buddha statue. Central Hall has definitely been done.

But that’d be irresponsible: while he is required to strike a somewhat diplomatic tone, Langwith Chair Sam Ashfani still makes a good point in admitting that if people really want to drink to excess, they’ll end up doing it outside of campus anyway. While there are undoubtedly welfare issues to contend with on campus, it is a relatively safe place regardless. A welfare issue on a quiet residential street is far more likely to lead to a night in the cells.

It is of course understandable that the University must protect itself. There is a careful balance that they must strike between operating a bar and operating a legal hazard. If the Langwith Punch event is indeed “threatening” the credibility of thelicense of The Courtyard then steps must be taken to protect itself.

As an idea, banning the event in order to protect the interests of the wider Langwith community is questionable. As a college, it is not exactly famous in its modern incarnation for having a college spirit. If it takes an enormous college-wide social so as to keep it ticking by in some scant fashion, then perhaps the ugly side of a few drunks need be tolerated.

By Alex Price

By Alex Price

Criticism has even been levelled at Langwith JCRC members for being involved. YUSU Welfare Officer Ben Humphrys labelled the event as “irresponsible drinking” and pointed out the involvement of the committee members in it. These students are not paid for their JCR work and are charged with the unenviable task of keeping colleges viable at a time when many question the viability of the whole college system. It would be unreasonable for them to shove bottles in throats and demand they drink, but situations are always far more complex than simplistic stereotypes of socials.

It seems unfair on the majority, that presumably do not lie face first in their own stomach contents post-punch, for the event to be banned. After managing to persist for 26 years it feels like a particular shame that an event could be cancelled. Will John Issitt, Langwith Provost, assist in replacing the event with something equally as good for promoting college unity, or has he made a snap decision in the aftermath of a bad one?

Langwith is not the only college that faces the potential of losing their traditions. Goodricke is in an entirely different location than six months ago, now more akin to a fancy Halifax than the former site of accomodation dubbed as some of the worst on campus. While the University tried and failed to close Derwent Bar over summer, the future of an eternally hilarious campus perennial, Club D, was certainly not safe while things were more uncertain.

Unfortunately it is now far easier to stigmatise binge drinking in our current climate of sensationalism. When the tabloids found out that a student urinated on a war memorial, a reactionary public demanded those responsible for organising the event be immediately punished and we must be careful of avoiding the same fate. Langwith Punch held 26 years of tradition for the college, and the decision to kill it based on a climate of condescension for drinking is a shame.

8 comments

  1. 8 Dec ’09 at 3:42 pm

    Led Zeppelin Rullzzz

    I luv gettin recckkeeeddd, all thes loosers who dont drink shud stop wining cos they r neaks

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  2. yeah me too, I’m getting hammered tonight.

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  3. http://www.viceland.com/wp/2009/11/where-the-streets-have-no-shame/

    This article makes a related point, its not like students become feral as soon as the 10th VK goes down. Most of us students have a pretty gentle idea of what a good time is, despite The Sun’s frantic bellowing.

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  4. 8 Dec ’09 at 6:15 pm

    wasterrrr999

    I love the way that the university tells us not to drink, then informs us that the only way of keeping our bars open is to get more people in them consuming more alcohol for them to remain financially viable (Bhenrys and Derwent Bar two prime examples). Hmmm… Funny that. When the Uni isnt making a profit from the boozing they suddenly become eager to shut it down for being ‘irresponsible’. Oh my goodness?! Drunk students?? What is the world coming to. Alcuin runs a similar punch event sometimes (a bit of a ripoff perhaps) in collaboration with RAG. Oh but thats different of course, because they’re getting pissed for charity. Haha.

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  5. 9 Dec ’09 at 5:04 pm

    Phil Garlick

    Steve Miller would sort this out

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  6. “Unfortunately it is now far easier to stigmatise binge drinking in our current climate of sensationalism.”

    Yeah, it’s horrible that something dangerous and life-threatening is becoming easy to dissuade.

    Getting pissed is fine. Drinking until you poison yourself? Probably should have a stigma attached to it.

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  7. Anonymous,

    I agree that binge drinking is definitely an ungraceful and unsophisticated way to have fun – but that’s not to say that its uniformly dangerous and life-threatening (although, it is obviously risky in a lot of situations).

    I think what’s most depressing is that rags like The Sun champion good old English institutions like the boozer, but simultaneously get purple-faced as soon as some students (i.e. easy, ‘posh’ or ‘money grabbing’ targets, like mini Fred Goodwins) get noticeably drunk. I think its fair to say all of British society binges.

    Otherwise, Langwith offering a punch social just reflects a lot of York’s campus events: innocuous, occasionally fun, heavily alcohol-sodden and largely uninspiring.

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