The consumption of alcohol seems to be a well-represented element of the life and culture of a university student, but the issues surrounding overconsumption on campus are becoming more pervasive.
Ambulances were dispatched eleven times to Brock in 2015 in response to incidences related to overconsumption of alcohol. In addition, campus security has recorded a marginal increase in liquor license infractions from 46 in 2014 to 66 in 2015.
Rick Fraser, Emergency Management and Life Safety Campus Security Services, also cited the prevalence of residence students mixing cough syrups, energy drinks and alcohol.
Some students however, have voiced complaints that measures in place are too strict and rigid and enforced with very little understanding or respect for the actual situation and the student involved.
Evan Vatri, a fourth-year history major, took an introduction to wine and viticulture course in 2012 when he lived in DeCew Residence, and as a result, he was required to drink wines from all around the world. For the purposes of an assignment, he would have to keep a wine journal and certain bottles that he liked in order to remember and compare them later on in the semester. Students were meant to get a global appreciation of viticulture so this practice of keeping empty wine bottles was expected. Vatri kept his bottles in his Decew residence room and during the procedural inspection was then ticketed for displaying “excessive alcohol”. He was ticketed three times in total and received accumulating demerit points.
“Trying to voice my concerns was useless, it was impossible for them to see my point of view even when I tried to show them my class syllabus,” says Vatri. The experience left him feeling that the interpretation of the Residence Community Guiding Principles (RCGP), the policy which deals with alcohol in residence, was akin to a zero tolerance policy.
Similarly this past October, Jacqueline Badgery, a first-year biomedical student said that she was relaxing in her residence room with friends, some of whom were drinking. Badgery claims that although Quiet Hours had not begun yet, the don knocked on the door and came in without waiting for the door to be opened. Having been asked to explain the situation, Badgery said that she told the truth, emphasizing that the people who were drinking were of age. The don proceeded to accuse them of playing beer pong, claiming she had heard the ping pong balls. Badgery claimed that with the level of music in the room, the don was unable to properly hear them speak, much less the sound of beer pong. In the end, Badgery admitted to playing drinking games that never took place, being tired of dealing with accusations and not having her perspective taken seriously. She has since been placed on alcohol probation.
According to the RCGP, students on alcohol probation may not “consume alcohol in any residence; possess or have any evidence of possession of alcohol in any residence; come back to any residence after drinking at another location (e.g. an off-campus party, pub or bar) nor have even the smell of alcohol on your breath while in any Brock residence. Students in violation of their alcohol probation may face suspension or eviction from residence.”
A service that other universities have implemented on campus to provide a safer drinking environment is a “drunk tank” facility. This is an on-campus location where over-intoxicated students can spend the night.
The Brock Press reached out to Megan Showers, a second-year film and media student at Queen’s University in Kingston. Queen’s operates a “drunk tanks” program called the “Cor”. Showers related an experience when one of her friends she had been drinking with had consumed so much alcohol to the point where the intoxication level was beyond what Showers and her friends could handle. Showers then brought her friend to the Cor program to sleep it off.
“I think the idea of taking someone to the hospital can be very daunting and a tough choice to make, so having a service that’s on campus where you can bring someone anonymously can take some relief off of that decision. I believe it’s an important service in the Queen’s community,” said Showers.
When asked if the idea of a “drunk tank” would be viable at Brock, both Campus Security as well as James Fleming, Director of Residence, had doubts. They both cited the numerous factors and complications that are associated with a program like the Cor which include liability and funding issues.
Student Health Services, BUSU, and Residence Services offer many educational programming events for students to learn about the safe use of alcohol. Off Campus Living Neighborhood Relations is another program which aims to facilitate responsible off-campus conduct.
However, even with all of these resources and programs, Badgery insisted that, “students will binge drink because they want to get drunk quickly before they get caught drinking by dons and that’s what leads to people over drinking.”
Currently, Campus Security Services monitors 750 cameras between Brock’s three campuses. They also actively engage with social media in order to prevent highly publicized and potentially volatile social events both on and off campus.
Donna Moody, Director of Campus Security Services, said that their policy is to, “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Assistant Campus News Editor