University seeks to limit shots at campus pubs

AMS concerned new policy will push students to hub

The AMS outlined a number of concerns with the upcoming alcohol policy.
Journal File Photo
During their first week in office, the AMS executive compiled an eight-page document outlining their concerns with the proposed campus alcohol policy and sent it to the University’s Alcohol Working Group. 
Last updated seven years ago, the new policy seeks to limit shots to one per student at all campus pubs and establish an alcohol sub-committee for campus advertising.
In an interview with The Journal, Auston Pierce, AMS president and William Greene, vice-president (University Affairs) spoke about the impact these changes could have on students. 
“While we believe that members of the Alcohol Working Group have put great emphasis on harm reduction strategies, we feel that it has not put enough emphasis on respecting student choice,” Greene said.
While the two said they’ve met with the group to discuss some of their concerns, Pierce maintained there were still some “major ones [they] struggle to see eye-to-eye with and still need to be addressed.”
According to Greene, limiting shots at campus bars will push students to more “dangerous” drinking establishments in the hub.
“Our fear is that by putting greater restrictions on our on-campus pubs, students will be deterred from coming to our pubs, which we feel are the safest places to consume alcohol,” he said.
In a statement to The Journal, the University said policy revisions are an attempt to align itself with best practices as part of a “long-standing commitment to reducing alcohol-related harms” to students.
“Stakeholders across campus, led by the Alcohol Working Group, use evidence-based best practices to promote student health, safety and well-being,” the statement read. “We are all working to improve the alcohol culture on campus, and policy is a proven way to help do this.”
The statement also cited a 2016 survey which showed Queen’s students binge drink more than students at other institutions, with 44 per cent of participants reporting at least one incident of binge drinking within the past two weeks compared to 34 per cent of Ontario students reporting the same.
“We are all working to improve the alcohol culture on campus, and policy is a proven way to help do this,” the statement concluded.
Pierce stressed campus pub and Walkhome staff receive training designed to “help students in distress.”
TAPS staff receive bystander training, anti-oppression training, and hands-off intervention and frisking training. 
“We have all that stuff that isn’t around elsewhere, and our concern is they’re displacing students from the safe environment with this policy to go to other areas on Princess St.,” Pierce said.
The Society’s second key concern with the latest policy draft, Greene said, surrounds campus advertising of events occurring at bars and restaurants.
Should a sub-committee be established to approve these advertisements, Greene said once-a-month meetings could cause a backlog of requests. 
“Our problem with it is there are over 260 clubs in the AMS alone that are constantly running charity events, live music events, and community events that are at bars and restaurants where the primary purpose of those events is not the consumption of alcohol,” Greene said.
Pierce added that in the 2018-19 year, more than 2,700 events went through the AMS event sanctioning process.
“The Division of Student Affairs has indicated there’s a potential for us to become an authorized body in terms of reviewing advertisements so we can streamline that and make it more accessible for students,” Greene said.
The policy also seeks to ban facility-wide last calls in what the Executive believe stems from a fear of bar rushes.
“Our perspective is, we don’t have a bar rush problem at our campus pubs,” Greene said.
He believes the working group is trying to achieve a more informal practice of last calls where servers notify customers that service is done for the evening.
“We don’t think that reflects the realities of our pubs,” Greene said. “We believe that facility-wide last calls have been able to adequately handle closing up service for the night.”
The Executive said they did reach a consensus with the working group on implementing mandatory advertisement of certain pub practices, like providing free, non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers.
“It was needed, there needs to be an update to the alcohol policy,” Greene said. “However, we just feel that the restrictions are not reflective of the realities we have on campus.”
Public consultations about the alcohol policy draft have been delayed until the fall, and the Executive said they’ll be hosting focus groups to gain student input. 


July 16, 2019

This article has been updated to clarify that, during the 2018-19 year, more than 2,700 events went through the AMS event sanctioning process, not the University's proposed sub-committee, which has not been established yet.

The Journal regrets the error.

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