York’s drinking culture needs to change

Making alcohol on campus expensive is not the most effective method for controlling student drinking culture

There has been recent debate over the role of universities in controlling their students alcohol consumption. One suggestion is that they raise the prices of alcohol sold on campus- in both shops and bars. Whilst there are legitimate concerns surrounding binge drinking at universities, these over bearing parental style restrictions would be inappropriate and ineffective.

Freshers week is a confusing time for many students. I have heard of many students who did not know how much they were ‘meant’ to drink, as though it was an initiation process to be accepted into university. This is the attitude that we should seek to change.

For many freshers their first weeks will be an amazing experience, but it need not be an alcohol fueled one. To reinforce this message, methods such as price hikes should not be employed. Students obviously don’t only shop in Nisa- unless they want to be bankrupt and maggot filled. There will always be means of getting cheaper alcohol.

Although it cheap drinks certainly do lead to increased alcohol consumption, it is not as if the student is forced to buy the drinks, its a conscious, if not entirely well informed, choice. Restricting these choices is not the role of a university, they are there to educate, not police.

However, given that for many, university is the first real moment of independence, more should be done in teaching students the necessities of knowing your limits. It may sound like a ‘buzzkill’ argument, yet how many great nights have involved being so drunk that you cannot control yourself? It’s not as fun as it first seems, many a student has spent their hangover in an anxious ball trying to work out what they did the night before.

Other methods of controlling students drinking could be far more effective. An obvious example is a ban on sports initiations. There are many horror stories from these nights (which I won’t go into now, don’t want you throwing up your dinner too). Although these events are supposedly banned at York, we all know they go on. Having a real crack down on this behaviour could improve the general image of sport at York overall, as well as creating a healthy drinking culture.

Additionally, as much of a great experience as freshers is, and whilst York does offer non-drinking nights, more could be done to change the nature of this week. Making drinking alcohol the central focus of your first week away from home could put off some students from coming here. The sober nights put on in freshers week often feel a bit lame, and segregate those who attend them from those who don’t. Better to encourage students to socialise together but without alcohol being the main focus.

Ultimately, the choice should lie with the student as to how much they choose to drink. Whilst mistakes will be made, they are the only way people will learn their limits. To charge higher amounts for this will not do anything for the problem of binge drinking, other than giving students a longer walk to their local shop. Changing the perception of alcohol is more important than making it an expensive experiment.

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