College, St. Patrick’s Day and beer. A recipe for either a lot of fun or trouble.
Humber posted an online reminder to students to drink responsibly on St. Paddy’s Day earlier this week. It was a tacit acknowledgement that excessive drinking can become a common part of college life, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep alcohol consumption at a safe level.
Statistics show the campus environment can encourage a heavy drinking culture.
The most recent survey of Canadian campuses in 2004 by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found young adults attending a postsecondary institution are more likely to engage in risky drinking than their peers who are not in school.
Statistics Canada reports that one-third of Canadians aged between 18 and 24 drink heavily (five drinks or more in one session) once a month.
There are measures in place to enforce responsible serving to prevent high-risk drinking on campus.
“To ensure safe drinking at LinX, we ask that all employees have their Smart Serve certification even if they are not serving alcohol,” said Ian Archer, second-year student in the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program at Humber North and a LinX pub bartender.
“As floor staff it’s important to know signs of intoxication to catch a small problem before it becomes a bigger one,” said Archer. “The responsibility is 100 per cent on the bartender that serves the alcohol, but as a floor or door staff, it’s also their responsibility to be the eyes of the room.”
Practices in place at LinX to prevent excessive drinking include offering water, slowing service, offering lower alcohol content products or suggesting a single instead of a double, he said.
“Rule of thumb is, if you got two hands, I’m only serving you two drinks at a time,” said Archer.
Consequences for intoxication on campus is specific to the incident, said Rob Kilfoyle, director of Public Safety and Emergency Management at Humber North campus.
“We do run into incidents where we find students who are under the influence of alcohol and our first priority is always their safety,” said Kilfoyle. “If someone is intoxicated at the LinX pub and they’re asked to leave or are refused service, there really is no discipline for that.”
But if they get into fights or other inappropriate or unwelcome behavior there may be sanctions for that, he said.
The concern increases when students are turning to alcohol consumption during class hours that may lead to excessive drinking, affecting academic performance.
“Personally I bartend Friday mornings, and it’s not uncommon that I’ll have a lineup at 11 a.m.,” said Archer. “It’s also not uncommon for students to skip class for a drink or two.”
Humber Travel and Tourism Business Management and Event Planning student Anthony De Stefano said he drinks on campus during class hours two to three times a week.
“I do believe having a pub on campus can lead to students drinking excessively due to some students being on campus five days a week,” said De Stefano.
To help people manage these risks, a team of independent Canadian and international experts developed low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines.
The key is moderation and knowing when enough is enough.
Kilfoyle said while college environments can encourage a heavy drinking culture, Humber stands out among other postsecondary campuses.
“One of the great differences between the LinX pub and any other university or college pub is that LinX isn’t driven by profit so there’s no expectation to sell, sell, sell in order to maximize revenue,” said Kilfoyle.
“It is very much a team effort to ensure safe drinking on campus,” said Archer.