No more drinking ‘games’

Exeter, according to the Guardian, has banned them following the death of a student as part of a society initiation.

A previous post referred to the problems of the Freshers’ Week drinking culture and the Government’s concerns. The initiation ritual, here involving golfers (perhaps surprisingly?), remains a deeply unpleasant extension of this.

A coroner’s inquest yesterday heard that [the student] took part in a drinking initiation for the golf society that involved downing a cocktail of shots, followed by pure spirits. The inquest heard that [he] was violently sick after the challenge, which was part of a three-hour pub crawl in his first month of university. [The student] joined the society days after he started at Exeter in October 2006. As part of the initiation, he and other new members were taken on a pub crawl on November 28, 2006, visiting nine bars. The students, some in fancy dress, downed strong drinks with extra “penalty” shots if they failed to drink them in less than 30 seconds.

…a fellow student claimed that [the student] drank four vodkas, three pints of cider, a glass of wine and numerous sambucas before downing a pint of spirits.

Just awful.

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An education in drinking?

According to a recent story in The Times it is “Last orders for boozy freshers”.

THE days of new students being initiated into binge drinking at universities may be numbered. The government is considering plans to clamp down on “freshers’ weeks”, where students are encouraged to consume vast quantities of cheap alcohol.

Beer

The prime minister and his policy team have been impressed by experts at a Downing Street seminar who deplored the scale of drunkenness at university. Professor Oliver James, a liver disease specialist and head of the medical faculty at Newcastle University, told Gordon Brown that he was “appalled” by the quantity of drinking during freshers’ week at his university.

There are all sorts of excellent reasons for agreeing with all of this and seeking to change the rationale of freshers’ week from being a training course in excessive drinking to one which is primarily focused on easing the transition to university life and starting the induction and orientation process to help students to get the most out of their higher education. However, it is genuinely difficult to see how this can be driven by government (other than in a general way by imposing substantial rises in duty on alcohol). But, things do have to change and it is, I think, good that government is at least aware of the issue and supportive of change.