Increase in alcohol-related incidents sparks review of STYC system

The college STYC system is being placed under review, although the system is reviewed annually, there have been a number of incidents during Freshers’ Fortnight which have placed the system in a harsh light

The role of the college STYC system is being placed under annual review in the aftermath of Freshers' Fortnight

The role of the college STYC system is being placed under annual review in the aftermath of Freshers' Fortnight

The College STYC system is being placed under review. Although the system is reviewed annually, there have been a number of incidents during Freshers’ Fortnight which have placed the system in a harsh light.

Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, commented that: “We are trying to address this within the STYC system review by making the STYC role clearer, providing more support and training, and making the consequences of breaking the responsibilities of being a STYC more apparent.”

Hughes went on to talk about the need to make the role of STYCs clearer, and concern over the prevalence and pressure to partake in drinking games during Freshers’ week.

Cassandra Brown, Langwith STYC, commented on the way some STYCs perceive what can and cannot be done, stated: “It’s part of the whole thing – I went to University expecting it.” She finished by saying: “It is what Freshers’ week is about, whether YUSU wants to admit it or not.”

Jane Grenville, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Students, voiced her concern over the drinking culture which has emerged in parallel to the introduction of university life.

“Alcohol is a poisonous element to anyone, and excessive consumption often results in questionable behaviour.”

However, she was keen to emphasise that the STYC review happened every year, and the increased incidences this year had no effect upon their decision to look at the current system.

Ambulances have had to be called onto campus on at least five different occasions, often in conjunction with college fresher events. These events are generally regarded as some of the “messiest” nights on campus.

Derwent’s events have become synonymous with excessive drinking. During the Slag and Drag event, on 12th October, ambulances were called by the First Aid staff at the event as a result of students having had too much to drink.

In a separate incident during Freshers’ week one student was required to down drinks, resulting in his near choking on a bottle cap, which was part of a drinking game, organised by his college STYCs.

However Matt Jenkins, Derwent JCRC Chair, commented: “With the amount of freshers we welcomed into Derwent, we are very pleased with how our STYCs acted, and except for a few very isolated incidences, this has been a very successful freshers for Derwent.

“When incidences did take place the senior welfare team within the college, alongside with myself and the JCRC welfare reps, were quick to assess the situation and on the whole this worked very effectively throughout the fortnight.”

Hughes continued by saying that: “The drinking games and social pressure this freshers’ week has been a large concern.” He went on to say that YUSU is planning a strategy of combatting the “potentially damaging culture of drinking games and pressure to drink heavily.”

There have been five ambulances called out during the period 8th October to 22nd October. This is in comparison to only two being called out during a similar length of time at the beginning of the summer.

However, the NHS Ambulance service does not distinguish between ambulances called out for injuries caused by alcoholic events, or injuries caused when not under the influence.

Jane Grenville, University Pro-Vice Chancellor, was keen to stress what a success this Freshers’ Fortnight had been. She stated: “I think that it has gone better than in previous years.”

Grenville continued that there had been no student deaths as a result of alcohol, unlike in the previous five years. She emphasised the negativity of the drinking culture which has emerged in conjunction with Freshers’ week at universities.

Article ammended after requested changes

13 comments

  1. 2 Nov ’11 at 8:53 am

    Matt Jenkins

    This article is ridiculous. At a University where over 4000 people have just arrived, many of whom would not have drunk before, the fact that these were the only incidences can be considered a success when compared to other years/universities.

    “One first year student became so intoxicated he tripped and seriously cut his head, resulting in stitches. Upon waking the following morning he had no recollection of the following night and his visit to the Accident and Emergency unit.”

    What this fails to mention is the fact that this was a huge rugby lad who chose to drink himself, and two STYCs who didn’t even know him actually took him to A & E and waited with him the entire night.

    In reference to the person who needed an ambulance called at the Club D, the said persons STYCs were the ones who actually brought the fresher out of the club night, found the first aiders, and then went to hospital with the fresher. The colleges welfare team then met with this person the next day to ensure that they were OK and this would not be repeated.

    Therefore, as these are the only Derwent related events you have discussed, to use the Derwent STYC shirt in the picture as you have is misleading and unfair. If you had come to anyone who actually organised the freshers week we would have told you that, as always, Derwent STYCs did an unbelievable job, and we could have told you about how successful freshers was, which is probably much more interesting to students than the absolute scraps you’ve bundled onto page 3.

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  2. 2 Nov ’11 at 10:57 am

    Man Up - Former BNOC

    There’s non-alcoholic events and there’s alcoholic events.

    Students, in the vast majorit, choose to drink. Deal with it – most people do. This is nothing new. In my Freshers week, in years long since gone by, I was smashed every night for a week. Friends & I went to York a&e a few times over the years too. We chose that path and had a great time. Others didn’t and had fun too.

    Fact is most choose to behave as they do. And have a good time with what they do. They make mistakes, and hopefully have a good time & learn a few things. But it’s usually their choice.

    Students are adults – like it or not. They get to do what they like, within the rules/law of course.

    Meanwhile STYCs and their JCRC seniors work their arses off, for months in some cases, to make Freshers week the huge success it is/was. I know from considerable experience. Very few misbehave – some do but they are a minority.

    Of course you should try to improve year on year. But to question STYC-ing and JCRC organised Freshers’ Week is nonsense.

    Man up.

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  3. I know for a fact that the majority of freshers had an exciting but safe Freshers Fortnight. Most freshers cannot thank their STYCs enough for their dedication and help during the difficult change to uni life. Unfortunately, as Matt Jenkins mentions, several people coming to uni will never have drunk properly before and have no idea of their limits. It’s ridiculous and unfair to expect STYCs to keep tabs on every fresher every minute of the day. I for one feel reassured to know that if I needed to go to A&E my STYCs would be there to support me.
    Whether right or wrong, alcoholic events have become a big part of university culture. Derwent JCRC (and probably others) have put on more (and improved) non-alcoholic alternatives than ever. ‘Excessive drinking’ may be a fine description for a couple of students, but for the majority freshers week was a success.

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  4. 2 Nov ’11 at 8:48 pm

    Sean Anderson

    I’m virtually a non-drinker and I feel the need to defend the STYC system. When I was a fresher last year, I did not feel pressured into excessive drinking. No STYC encouraged me to drink. And I still managed to get to know my flatmates very well despite this.

    At the end of the day, students have free will. If they want to get stupidly drunk, they will. Changing the STYC system will have no effect whatsoever on this.

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  5. 3 Nov ’11 at 11:01 am

    Outraged Student

    I find it laughable to read the sponsor message by Ernst & Young; “quality in everything we do” at the top of this page and then to scroll down and read this.

    Had you actually taken the time to ask a few questions of those involved with any of these incidents, you might have come up with something remotely resembling the truth.

    Firstly, the student who hit his head and went to A&E did not in fact require stitches at all and was only taped up; also and more importantly, this incident did not take place at Slag and Drag but on his first night in York, so to intimate that was the case is unfair and takes away from the great work done by those organising the night. Also, had you in fact done some actual ‘reporting’ and talked to the Doorsafe staff or bar staff working at Slag and Drag, they would have told you that from their perspective this year’s event was better run and had far fewer incidents than last year’s.

    Furthermore, I don’t exactly see what you are trying to prove or achieve by saying there have been more ambulances called out in October than in a ‘similar length of time’ at the beginning of the summer. The period in October you mentioned just happens to be Fresher’s Fortnight, when first year students from all over the country are thrown together in close proximity with no classes and nothing to do for two weeks. It should come as no surprise then that they’re going to drink in order to socialise and for something to do. The beginning of the summer by contrast just happens to be the university’s exam period, when people are settled in and actually have work to do. How does a comparison of ambulances called out between these two time scales reveal anything? Of course there were more called out this October; people were drinking far more frequently and in greater amounts than at any other time of year, especially summer. Far more useful then (and better journalism) to have compared this year’s Fresher’s Fortnight with that of last year, though I suppose the thought of actually digging any information up sounded far too much like hard work to you.

    The gaping flaws in your reporting aside, I think it is important to echo some of the comments here in saying that in no way is it fair to apportion blame to STYCs for the excessive drinking of first years. It’s not as though we invented drinking or drinking games; freshers come to university well aware of both. With or without STYCs present first years are going to drink, and drink a lot, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that without the presence of the STYCs there would have been more incidents and they would have been more serious. I say this with confidence as I personally went to A&E twice during Fresher’s Fortnight to look after first years, who I guarantee got into that state quite by themselves; having a STYC with them only helped in the circumstances.

    In future try doing some more substantial research before printing such a half-hearted attempt at a story, or else just don’t bother writing anything at all.

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  6. Get your information right before publishing. A lot of this is untrue/misinformed, and devalues the brilliant work done by JCRCs and STYCs to make freshers week such a success.

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  7. The title to this article is “Increase in alcohol-related incidents sparks review of college STYC system” which you then undermine in your second sentence by stating that the review happens every year.

    Ridiculous article.

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  8. Re. the ‘huge rugby lad’, while he chose to drink what he did at the beginning of the night, you fail to mention the ten shots a STYC bought him in a club and made him drink, and the blatant peer pressure that occurred on the first night of freshers. I think its unfair of older students to pressure new students, when all they want to do is fit in and make new friends.
    I feel some of the STYCS should have been a lot more responsible.

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  9. 5 Nov ’11 at 1:06 am

    TrueDerwenter

    To try and highlight a link between the actions of STYC’s and A&E visits of freshers is laughably bad. I’ve been to A&E four times and none of these involved STYC’s of any description. As already pointed out, they are often stuck at 0400 in A&E with some idiot fresher who they have never met before – who would have ended up there anyway, but alone.

    And to point the finger at the most successful college and university experience on campus with that picture is frankly disgusting.

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  10. 7 Nov ’11 at 9:40 am

    Champion of the lash

    So essentially derwent are the biggest lads

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  11. 7 Nov ’11 at 3:24 pm

    Lash Captain

    Derwent was, is and always will be the best.

    Student ‘journalists’ were, are and always will be full of rubbish.

    Lash Captain,
    2007

    DCTID

    Reply Report

  12. 8 Nov ’11 at 4:04 pm

    Chuck Norris

    If Chuck Norris was a STYC his Styclets would be in A&E before they came to University

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  13. 10 Nov ’11 at 12:23 pm

    Outraged Student

    To “To Matt…”…

    While accusing Matt of his failure to mention a couple of things, you yourself have failed to understand some key points. Firstly, no STYCs bought freshers drinks that I am aware of, they bought them all themselves.

    Secondly, unless you are suggesting some sinister Guantanamo Bay waterboarding scenario in which STYCs phsically funnel drinks down the throats of first years, you must realise that it is impossible to “make” someone drink anything they don’t want to. The freshers have to want to be drinking and engage on some level themselves in the first place, you can’t blame their drinking on the pressure of older students.

    While I appreciate your comment about peer pressure and wanting to fit in, you have yourself failed to realise that this desire on the part of freshers is going to result in such behaviour regardless, because peer pressure does not only occur between STYCs and freshers, but among freshers themselves as well. I would argue that it is in fact this latter form of peer pressure which is the most prevalent and significant, as more confident and loud freshers can easily dominate social situations in which there is a high level of uncertainty and awkwardness (i.e. Freshers’ Fortnight.

    Better then that the STYCs are present to ensure that this kind of peer pressure does not get out of hand, and that all freshers are able to enjoy themselves over the two weeks, which is indeed what happened if you stopped to ask any of them.

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