All Posts Tagged With: "alcohol"
Why you should always go straight home after the bar
Students from two Ontario universities are no longer in legal trouble for dumb things they did while drunk but their cases serve as reminders that youthful indiscretions don’t just disappear.
At least not when newspapers write about the cases allowing Google searches to forever link names to drunken behvaiour that some (though not all) potential employers will look down upon.
Exhibit A: Two University of Guelph students, both 19, pleaded guilty this week to mischief for shooting passing cars with paintballs around 2 a.m. one January morning. They apologized and got absolute discharges from a judge but the Guelph Mercury still printed their names.
To really reduce drinking, hit students where it hurts
The City of Ottawa has decided to tackle binge drinking among young adults, but I think their campaign is unlikely to be effective.
Indeed, drinking is a problem in the city. Binge drinking rose by nine per cent between 2000 and 2011 and causes 110 deaths and 970 hospitalizations per year among Ottawa adults, according to Ottawa Public Health. Three quarters of young adult males reported binge drinking, defined as more than five drinks in one sitting.
All this isn’t surprising. During frosh week, for example, drinking culture is celebrated among a fresh crop of students. University of Ottawa student organizers send willing first-years to Hull, Quebec where the drinking age is 18 and they can toast their new found freedom. While there are also non-drinking frosh events, turnout is low.
Continue reading City of Ottawa to promote ‘culture of moderation’
Inside the war against risky drinking on campus
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
When outraged members of Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Tennessee called a news conference in September to protest the suspension of their fraternity due to allegations of strange and excessive alcohol abuse, two words sprang to mind: Animal House. The news conference, immortalized on YouTube, is so unintentionally bizarre that it could be mistaken for an outtake from the subversive 1978 frat-boy comedy that launched a million toga parties and countless hangovers. The press conference—featuring a bow-tied, dead-serious Southern lawyer backed by an angelic legion of fraternity members in their Sunday suits—was called to refute allegations that one of their own, 20-year-old Alexander P. Broughton, had indulged in “butt-chugging” massive quantities of wine. While there was no denying that Broughton was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after a night of fraternity drinking games, the idea of an alcohol enema is “repulsive” to Broughton, his lawyer said. “He is a straight man.”
A timeline of injuries, deaths, scandals and crackdowns
Graphic by Jessie Willms. Text by Josh Dehaas.
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A grad’s survival guide
If you choose to drink, there are a few things you need to know. We’re not talking about the legal drinking age or the dangers of drunk driving, which society has justifiably drilled into your head since you were old enough to finger paint. Instead, Yuni Kim, a recent graduate of York University who is currently in teacher’s college, offers you 10 things every student should know about drinking.
1. Keep emergency cash for taxis. At some point, you will stumble out of a bar, feel the slap of the chilly Canadian air in your face and realize you’re nowhere near home. It will be 2 a.m. and public transit won’t be there to save you. Many cab drivers won’t take debit, and there’s not a single ATM on this sketchy street. You’ll be glad you have that spare $20 to whisk you away.
2. Pick up the tab once in a while. Be cool enough to buy a round of pints for your friends whenever you have the cash to spare. This ritual builds camaraderie and chances are the karma will come back to you just as your bank account hits zero around Thanksgiving. With that said…
University says health and safety risks forced action
Students from the University of Alberta say they were blindsided by changes imposed on the largest residence on campus, Lister Hall, which include a ban on drinking in common areas.
The administration says it discussed the issues with concerned student groups but health and safety risks meant it could no longer wait to act.
“There was an interim review done and a lot of health and safety issues came up,” says Deborah Eerkes, Director of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Acting Dean of Students. “They were alarming enough that some kind of change had to take place immediately.”
Students’ Union representatives and Lister Hall residents say that the banning of drinking in common areas is an overreaction and that there is no proof it will make students safer. “They’re using the veil of emergency,” said Petros Kusmu, Students’ Union VP External. “Every time we ask them to provide evidence that this is as severe as they say it is, they skirt around the issue.”
Bandits make off with barbecue chips
Is it just me, or is there something extra dumb about students in Victoria, B.C.?
Two of them are facing break and enter charges after they stole a bag of Zellers-brand barbecue potato chips from a houses’ garage around 3:15 a.m. on Tuesday, reports the Times Colonist.
The home-owner’s Chihuahua alerted her to the crime in progress. Officers from three different detachments then converged to hunt down the thieves. Police dogs found a trail of munchies leading to some bushes. Hiding there were a pair of drunken and apologetic female students.
Student may have been sexually assaulted and drugged
Vancouver Island University is warning students via Twitter to guard their drinks. A woman who was sexually assaulted in Nanaimo recently may have been given the date-rape drug GHB.
Another young woman says her doctor confirmed she was given the drug in October. CTV Vancouver Island reports that the woman was found by a friend in a parkade around 3 a.m. after attending a nightclub. She had no recollection of the evening, but her friend says a stranger had shared her drink earlier that night.
V.I.U. has been using custom drink coasters to warn students about how easy it is for people to slip odourless and colourless GHB into their drinks, reports Canada.com.
Vindication for residence management at Alberta
There was high demand for alcohol-free and quiet floors at a University of Alberta residence that decided to offer them for the first time this year. That result seems to vindicate residence management, whose consultation process was criticized last year by the Lister Hall Student’s Association, reports The Gateway.
Among applicants to Lister Hall, 24 per cent requested an alcohol-free floor and 46 per cent requested a quiet floor. That’s similar to what Residence Services predicted using their consultation process, which included a survey that found 51 per cent of the 302 residents surveyed last year would opt for a quiet floor and 19 per cent would live on an alcohol-free floor. The process began after residence management noticed a great number of people were leaving Lister in the first semester and suspected it might be due to rowdy weekend nights. Then-LHSA-President Dustin Edwards suggested there were likely other reasons for the exodus.
Startling findings in annual drug use report
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has released their annual report, which brings together surveys of drug use among teens from the various provinces. What’s most startling is the risky behaviours Grade 12 students are engaging in before driving. Depending on the province:
—up to 20 per cent report driving within an hour of having two or more drinks
—up to 38 per cent report being a passenger with a driver who was drinking
—up to 20 per cent report being a passenger with a driver who had “too much to drink”
—up to 21 per cent report driving within an hour of using cannabis
Clearly young people need to plan safer rides home.
There were also interesting, if less shocking, findings about teen drug and alcohol use in general. The study looked at students in grades seven, nine, 10 and 12 and found that the amount of teens who had drank alcohol at least once in their lifetimes ranged from 52 per cent of Albertan teens to 70 per cent of Newfoundland teens. Those figures climb as high as 90 per cent by twelfth grade.
What researchers are doing on Facebook
Students who post on Facebook about “getting drunk” or “blacking out” or “getting wasted” might want to change their privacy settings.
U.S. researchers have determined that if you post about getting wasted you’re at a higher risk for alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which funded the study, suggests schools consider creeping students’ public profiles to “identify and intervene with college students who are at risk for alcohol use problems,” said director Kenneth Warren.
Researchers looked at the public Facebook profiles of more than 300 undergraduate students and invited the students to use an online version of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, or AUDIT, a screening tool that clinicians use to measure problem drinking. “We found that underage college students who referenced dangerous drinking habits, such as intoxication or blacking out, were more likely to have AUDIT scores that indicate problem drinking or alcohol-related injury,” said Dr. Megan Moreno, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An AUDIT score of 8 or higher means the person is at risk of a problem drinking. Underage students who referenced “being drunk” or “getting wasted” in the study had audit scores of 9.5 on average. Students who had no references to alcohol scored 4.7 on average. In other words, the tool could work.
But what about protecting students’ privacy from creeping admins? Someone should study that too.
Adults of legal age have a right to be served: expert
Young adults, especially men, are being barred from entering drinking establishments in Canada based solely on their age — and these are men who are have reached the provincially-mandated minimum age for drinking. Many clubs are restricting entry to those over the age of 21. Women often get a free pass if they’re of legal age.
But the practice may be a Human Rights Code violation, Raj Anand, former commissioner of Ontario’s Human Rights Commission told The Globe and Mail. “There are certain circumstances in which the stereotype of irresponsibility that attaches to young, unmarried men is sanctioned by law –– see their car insurance rates –– but visiting a bar or nightclub is not one of them. In my view, exclusion of an adult of drinking age is a violation of the Human Rights Code.”
Club owners and event planners defend the practice, suggesting that younger men are more likely to arrive drunk and spend less money.
But the rules are the rules. So young men, the next time a bouncer looks at your ID and tells you scram, just point out that it’s a human rights code violation. That ought to get you in, right?
Universities and parents have a duty to educate
From the editors of Maclean’s
Some predictions can be made with absolute certainty. The tides will shift. The sun will rise. And young university students will drink to excess.
From Tom Brown’s Schooldays to Animal House, exuberant drinking by underage students has long been a part of the experience of going away to school. Realistically, there is little society can do to change this fact of life. But what can we all do to cut down on the harm it may cause?
Last week, Canada’s university community was shocked by an orientation-week death at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. A first-year student from Calgary, just 19 years old, was found unconscious in a basement dorm room at the school suffering from severe alcohol poisoning. He later died in hospital. Fellow students told reporters he’d been playing a competitive drinking game called “flip cup” and had consumed an estimated 40 ounces of alcohol during the night.
This follows two student deaths at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., last year that the provincial coroner’s office attributed, in part, to a “culture of drinking on campus.” Both men, aged 18 and 19, fell to their deaths after drinking, one from a residence window, the other from the roof of a library.
The accidental death of a son or daughter is an unimaginable tragedy. But the death of a freshman student during their first few weeks away from home seems particularly difficult for any mother or father. While a university can never become a surrogate parent, it is nonetheless expected that campus residences will be a sufficiently safe place for teenaged students to live as they make their final strides to adulthood.
The recent deaths thus raise two difficult questions: who bears responsibility for instructing teenagers in the risks of alcohol abuse; and how should schools deal with students’ inevitable desire to party.
The obvious place to begin educating about alcohol is at home, as it is with most other topics. Someone needs to let every teenager know that drinking 40 ounces of alcohol in one night is reckless and dangerous behaviour, and parents are the obvious candidates. A full and frank discussion on drinking and its consequences is as necessary before heading off to school as packing sufficient underwear and pens.
In fact, many parents believe monitored underage drinking at home is the best way to teach teens about learning your limits. Depending on the situation and teen involved, this may make considerable sense, and be entirely legal. Of course there are serious risks to this sort of parental permissiveness as well. This month, an Orillia, Ont., mother found herself facing criminal charges in New York for providing alcohol to her 14-year-old son. After being served a few beers by his mother while camping, he wandered off at night and drowned.
As for universities, most now recognize an important obligation to protect the youngest students from their wildest instincts, at least during those first few days away from home. The initial week of school was once a time of unremitting partying. Today many universities have banned alcohol entirely from campus during this time. Most have also changed the name from frosh week to orientation week to make this distinction clear.
Going further, some forward-thinking universities have declared first-year residences to be dry throughout orientation week. The University of Guelph has had such a policy in place for the past two years. Where kids once showed up at university residence with a case of beer among their luggage, Brenda Whiteside, assistant vice-president for student affairs at Guelph, says those days are now over. The new week-long regime “sends a strong message about creating a new culture in our residences,” she says. During orientation week at Acadia, on-campus activities were alcohol-free, but the residences were not, as the flip cup games attest.
It seems reasonable that every Canadian university should set an appropriate tone for the school year by eliminating alcohol from first-year residences during orientation week. And some schools should be encouraged to experiment with the more drastic step of banning alcohol entirely from all first-year residences—particularly given that a large number of those students will be underage. This might even become a marketing advantage, at least from the perspective of nervous parents.
University students will drink, and it is naive to ignore this fact. But parents and universities—and the students themselves, who have an equal responsibility to look out for one another—must find ways to make our campuses safer, regardless of life’s inevitabilities.
Most first-year students can’t legally drink
Queen’s University, the site of at least two alcohol-related deaths last year, will ban alcohol entirely from residences during Frosh Week — even for those who have reached the legal drinking age, reports the Queen’s Journal.
University officials told the Journal that 92 per cent of first-year students in residence are under the legal drinking age anyway.
The Alcohol Working Group came up with the idea, stating the ban would “clearly signal Queen’s commitment to reducing alcohol-related harm, particularly at a critical transitional time when the risk of alcohol misuse among 1st year students has been known to be high (with a tragic alcohol-related accidental death of one resident during Orientation week in 2010).”
Coroner Roger Skinner recommended a review of campus alcohol policies after determining that the 2010 deaths of Cameron Bruce, who fell out of a window on the sixth-floor of a residence, and Habib Khan, who died after falling through a skylight, were alcohol-related.
Students caught with alcohol during Frosh Week will will be given “educational assignments” and watch their alcohol be poured out.
The normal rules that allow drinking among those of legal age will return Sept. 11.
Graduate student residences will not face the new rule.
It’s all in the name of research
Students at Arizona State University are getting paid to drink — $60 per night.
Will Corbin, an Arizona State University professor researches the effects of alcohol by getting students drunk. “‘The biggest thing I get is, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me,” he told azcentral.com. “You have a bar, and you give people alcohol as part of your research.’
That’s right. He has a bar in the psychology building where carefully screened students are plied with cocktails by research assistants each night at 5 p.m. They’re given three drinks in the first half hour. Then they’re put through a battery of tests related to memory or potentially risky behviour.
After they’ve sobered up, they’re allowed to leave. That typically happens around 9 p.m. — early enough to make it to a real bar.
Study shows brain damage, but that’s not all
Another study suggests that binge drinking damages the brain. But this time, there’s reason to be hopeful too.
Tim McQueeny, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati (UC), looked at 29 high-resolution brain scans from students aged 18 to 25. Those who reported regularly consuming more than four to five drinks at a time had more thinning of the pre-frontal cortex, which is the area where executive decisions are made. Executive decisions include paying attention and keeping control of emotions — things that become difficult when intoxicated.
“Alcohol might be neurotoxic to the neuron cells, or, since the brain is developing in one’s 20s, it could be interacting with developmental factors and possibly altering the ways in which the brain is still growing,” warns McQueeny.
However, his adviser and co-author Krista Lisdahl Medina also had some hopeful news. Their preliminary data also show that grey matter appears to be fine in those who were once binge drinkers, but who have since abstained. That, she says, warrants further study.
The prevalence of binge drinking on North American campuses is undeniable. In the most recent National College Health Assessment, which surveyed 30,000 students, nearly one in three reported that they consumed at least five standard drinks the last time they went to a party or socialized. Five per cent of them reported having more than 11 drinks the last time they socialized.
President says single-sex residences will reduce binge drinking and sex
The president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. says his school will return to all-male and all-female dormitories in September. Here’s his reasoning. “The two most serious ethical challenges college students face are binge drinking and the culture of hooking up,” wrote John Garvey in The Wall Street Journal Monday. “Here is one simple step colleges can take to reduce both binge drinking and hooking up: Go back to single-sex residences,” he writes.
His only evidence appears to be a study by Christopher Kaczor of Loyola Marymount University that shows students in co-ed dorms report binge drinking more than twice as often as students in single-sex housing, and that students in co-ed housing are significantly more likely to have had a sexual partner in the past year. What the article doesn’t mention is whether Kaczor’s study controlled for the fact that many students who live in single-sex dorms have chosen to live there precisely because they wish to avoid alcohol and sex.
Program to be funded through fines paid by students who drink too much
St. John’s College at the University of Cambridge is hiring students to look after their peers who have had too much to drink during end of year celebrations. The College, which is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year, is hiring the “volunteer carers” in anticipation of its annual May Ball. The volunteers are being trained by the school nurse and will be paid up to £100 an evening. When a student appears excessively intoxicated, College staff will notify the carers who will come look after them. “The risk of harm to them in that state is serious enough to make the College put clear procedures in place to ensure that they are properly cared for,” a spokesman for St. John’s said. The program will be funded through fines levied against students requiring care.
Study suggests cause may be social or physiological factors
According to several Dalhousie researchers, combining caffeinated energy drinks and alcohol could be a major health hazard. The study, which was published in Drug and Alcohol Review, showed that energy drink consumption leads to twice the amount of alcohol consumption.
Dr. Sean Barrett, associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Dalhousie and one of the researchers involved in the study, says that further research must be conducted to determine exactly why energy drinks increase alcohol consumption. He suggests that caffeine or an amino acid called taurine might be culprits.
“But what we do know that when alcohol is used together with these energy drinks, people say they feel more sober but they still tend to perform poorly on various neurocognitive tasks. They’re still physically intoxicated, they just feel like they aren’t,” said Dr. Barrett in an interview with Dal News.
Whether the cause is social behavior or dopamine release from the brain, the article points out that the increased alcohol intake raises the risk of alcohol poisoning and risk-taking behaviours.
-Photo courtesy of Tambako the Jaguar
Concordia cracks down on ‘illegal’ student union parties
Concordia University has cracked down on “all you can drink” bi-monthly parties hosted by the students’ union. The cultural nights, as they are known, began last year and feature food and drink from a different culture each time. Students paid a flat rate of five dollars and were given access to as much alcohol as they wanted.
When advertising for this past Wednesday’ s culture night, the administration objected to the promotion of “all you can drink.” A spokesperson for the university told campus papers, the Link and the Concordian, that such an event would actually be illegal under Quebec liquor laws. After consulting with university security, several measures will be taken to slow alcohol consumption and control student drunkeness at the popular events.
Fewer bartenders will be working, and breaks will be taken where alchohol is not served. Security will be conducting hourly patrols and students will have to wear bracelets that track how many drinks they’ve had.