The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s attempts to discourage alcohol-related jacket bars have been poorly executed.
The Faculty has implemented two measures to prevent students from attempting the “Beers on the Pier” bar. The first was working with the Kingston Police Force to have officers patrol the pier where students typically attempt the bar.
The second measure was to strongly recommend that FRECs — Engineering Society (EngSoc) orientation leaders — discourage “any bars that are related to or associated with unsafe, risky or unprofessional behaviour”, according to Faculty Dean Kimberly Woodhouse.
In terms of its public image, the Faculty is completely justified in wanting to disassociate from alcohol — but although Woodhouse has cited safety concerns as the reason for the changes, little has been done to improve safety.
Engineering students have continued to attempt “Beers on the Pier” despite the police presence. The Faculty’s actions have increased the potential risk, because instead of attempting the bar as a group, students now reportedly go to the pier alone at odd hours.
Consultation with EngSoc is desperately needed before the Faculty does anything else. Setting up police surveillance and banning certain bars from FRECs’ jackets are two steps that were undertaken without the Society’s input, even though EngSoc likely has a much greater influence on the social behaviour of Engineering students than the Faculty.
It’s critical that EngSoc engages itself in the conversation and that the Society establishes a clear public stance on the issue.
The AMS’s campaign against malicious Blue Light activations in 2012 was an example of promoting honest discussions and effectively addressing safety issues. It wouldn’t have made sense to post police officers at every blue light, just as posting officers at the pier is doing little to promote safety.
Establishing a similar awareness campaign could benefit the Faculty and its students, so that the potential consequences of alcohol-related bars are properly explained.
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