This September, scores of first-year students will set out to explore the streets of Kingston. Many of them will drift away from campus and into the Student Ghetto, searching for their first university kegger.
Although most first-year students can’t legally drink, keggers have become synonymous with the university experience.
For some, keggers are all about the camaraderie.
“Most of the time, going to a kegger is worth it, because everyone I know is there,” said Paul Wernick, ArtSci ’15.
Unlike regular house parties, keggers typically have an entry fee involved — usually $10.
Wernick is adamant there are ways to get in without paying, such as wearing Queen’s branded clothing to show school spirit and displaying enough confidence to finagle your way in.
He estimates he avoided paying for half of the keggers he attended in first-year, usually by pretending to be a member of the Queen’s football team.
But not all student keggers are driven by the bottom line.
Beryle Foster-Roach, ArtSci ’13, throws an annual Halloween kegger with her six housemates, and their largest return has been a mere $100.
“Our main goal is to break even, because the keg is the only expense we really have,” she said.
“As far as making someone pay, I don’t have a problem with it. [But] we generally don’t go for the whole profit thing that I think a lot of keggers do.”
Foster-Roach and her housemates relied primarily on word of mouth to advertise their kegger.
“Last [Halloween] started off really slow, and we didn’t think that anyone was going to come,” she said.
“Suddenly, there were maybe 50 frosh that came through the door, and our house was full of people.”
Foster-Roach acknowledges the dangers and responsibilities the hosts assume upon packing their house with inebriated students.
“Things can easily be stolen, especially when you have speakers or iPods or phones around,” she said.
“We just keep an eye on everyone, make sure everyone’s having fun.”
The allure of throwing or attending a kegger is often mitigated by the possibility of police intervention.
Keggers become illegal when they contravene the Ontario Liquor Licence Act, which prohibits any person from selling liquor without a license or permit.
“Sometimes, students say that they’re not selling alcohol,” said Constable Steven Koopman, media relations officer for Kingston Police.
Even if alcohol is provided for “free” upon the payment of an entry fee, a host could be held civilly liable for the actions of any person to whom they provided alcohol.
Selling or supplying alcohol to anyone under the age of 19 is also an offence under the Act, carrying a maximum fine of $200,000 and up to one year in prison.
Last year, the police only had two confirmed keggers they broke up that were attributed to Queen’s students. Koopman said that the police are usually averse to breaking up smaller gatherings, but will act accordingly if a party spirals out of control.
“There’s a fine balance between making sure you guys enjoy yourselves and maintaining the peace, allowing other homeowners to enjoy themselves as well.”