A student stopping by the pub for a casual drink after class isn’t unheard of. Sadly, neither is seeing your male roommate so hammered that he passes out on the floor in fishnet stockings. Despite the entertaining stories that result, drinking on campus is a growing problem for students.
A CAMH study last year found that Canadians drink more than 50% above the global average. And according to Stats Canada, in 2012, a higher proportion of males than females reported heavy drinking in every age group, where heavy drinking was defined as having five or more drinks per occasion.
“The highest rates of heavy drinking for both sexes were among those aged 18 to 34,” they reported. “In the 18 to 19 age group, 36.7% of males and 27.0% of females reported heavy drinking, and in the 20 to 34 age group, the rates were 40.9% for males and 22.6% for females.”
And it’s not just any young people who engage in heavy drinking—it’s university students. The CBC reported in 2008 that a homecoming event at Queen’s University saw the drunken acts of students setting fire to a car and ended in arrests, violence, and injuries.
Luckily, UTM students are, reportedly, usually steered away from excessive alcohol consumption in the campus pub. Shane Madhani, the general manager of the Blind Duck, assures students that the pub is very strict when it comes to limiting drinks and monitoring those who indulge in alcohol on campus. The staff is also well-trained when it comes to protecting intoxicated students from leaving the pub.
“We don’t let people leave if they’re intoxicated,” says Madhani. “We sit them down and let them sober up. We make sure that those students are supervised by a friend who isn’t drunk to make sure that they get home safe.” Madhani also says that the pub takes extra precautions by making sure the door staff escort intoxicated students to their residence on campus.
Madhani says he and the staff ensure things don’t get too out-of-hand during the pub nights or when students are enjoying drinks with friends. “The way we keep alcohol abuse to a minimum is that we don’t over-serve people, as we’re not in the business of making money on alcohol,” he says. “We want to provide a safe environment for our students to drink on campus. Realistically, it’s not even an issue for us as there are very few people who drink here regularly.”
Madhani also says the pub staff are very strict when it comes to preventing underage drinking. “If you’re a minor and get caught drinking, you’re banned for one year past your 19th birthday,” he says.
Adrian Buhl, a third-year biology major, says he always orders a drink when he eats at the Blind Duck: “I usually just grab a beer with a burger or something. I just want to relax.” Even though Buhl has a few drinks here and there, he doesn’t feel it gets out of hand on campus. “I don’t get plastered on campus or anything. I get wasted at my friends’ parties and stuff,” he says. “Plus there isn’t really any good booze offered on campus.”
Daphne, a fourth-year chemistry major and Buhl’s girlfriend, says she rarely has any drinks on campus. “I feel like it’d be really embarrassing if I got hammered at school,” she says. “I get pretty drunk with my girlfriends during birthdays and New Year’s and things like that.”
Madhani says the number of students who drink at the campus pub is relatively low. “We don’t keep track of the number of students [who] drink, but as a percentage, maybe around five to 10 percent of all people [who] come to the pub have an alcoholic beverage,” he says.
Buhl says that he thinks drinking is normal among college students. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t drink or get super drunk at parties. All my friends have some pretty messed up morning-after stories,” he laughs. “If those stats [by Stats Canada] got any higher in the next year or so, I wouldn’t be surprised. No one cares.”
Whether students at other university and college campuses take their alcohol intake seriously is still up for debate. At least at UTM, no one’s set fires to any cars yet.