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Drinking Responsibly Should Be Our Choice, Not Theirs

May 29, 2014 · Jack Lodge

Today was my last academic day at Loughborough University and it has been quite an adventure since I first arrived just short of five years ago. I picked Loughborough as it was well known as a social university town where the opportunities for involvement in societies and clubs were endless.

Apart from a particularly embarrassing football club trial in my first week, I can have no regrets as Loughborough has set me up perfectly for my first forays into the professional world of real work. However, I feel some sadness for the thousands of Fresher’s arriving this September; who won’t receive the same life changing experience I did. They will probably still have the best years of their lives here though, so let me explain.

It was with an air of predictability that the university has signed up to a national project, aimed to “encourage responsible drinking”. Having read the details I don’t believe the student experience will change a great deal in the coming academic year.

Unfortunately this trend of university implemented social restraints seems to be continuing from last years ‘Alcohol Free Zones’ and the banning of initiations and drinking societies. Is Loughborough losing a bit of the magic that made it mine and many others number one UCAS choice?

I cannot help but think back to 2009 and the carefree frivolities of my first year at Loughborough. We had our Hall initiations on a cold evening in October on Fountain Lawn and the evening included but not exclusive to raw chickens, squid sauce and fish heads taped onto bottles of value cider. Whilst this night was probably the worst night of my life and a little extreme, it is also one of my fondest at Loughborough as it was a right of passage for the 40 or so boys who attended.

Nothing like a 'Welcome Party'

Nothing like a ‘Welcome Party’

The university implementing these schemes is all very well with great intentions, but lets be clear, these students can vote, buy alcohol, drive a car, they are adults. The university should encourage safe practices, but for students, of course, university is a place where mistakes are supposed to be made and learnt from. I’m glad I had the chance to make (many) mistakes in my first year and I’ve certainly learnt from them.

The university taking these steps to promote health and lower alcohol consumption has seen very little dispute from students. Maybe this is due in part to students now paying £9,000 and valuing their education above social aspects of university. I know that when I first arrived, paying a mere £3,000, education and social life were equally important to the majority of students. I certainly valued my social life and as a result my trips to the library were rare; my results were reflective.

This social experience that I speak of is not for everyone and I’m not sure I would want to repeat it, but initiations and the drinking culture is something that makes Loughborough so brilliant.

Whilst the scheme is aimed at minimizing anti-social behaviour and excessive drinking, which is a positive step, I don’t believe it has really been a problem to begin with. It is certainly a miniscule issue in comparison to 2009 where it was quite regular that someone in hall would be taken home in the security van on a Friday night, lying in a pool of his or her own vomit.

Having said all this, I must admit I had some serious reservations over the ‘Alcohol Free Zones’ implemented across campus at the start of the year and the effect they would have on the Union and the students attending.

Still, praise needs to go to the incredibly hardworking events team, in particular Zak Evans, Matt Nunn and Steve Black. They have kept the Union a special night out and have raised the bar, consistently putting on a wide range of successful and appealing day and night events with something for all students. The Union has gone from strength to strength and generally the alcohol free zones have had little impact on our experience.

Whilst initiations might be off the cards, if the Union can continue to offer a eclectic assortment of interesting nights then the Freshers next year will get a different Loughborough but not necessarily a worse one.

Jack Lodge

Jack Lodge

Associate Editor
Jack is former Associate Editor of The Epinal.
Jack Lodge
Jack Lodge

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Posted by on May 29, 2014. Filed under Columnists,Comment,Featured,Jack Lodge.
  • Ploppy plop

    “Whilst the scheme is aimed at minimizing anti-social behaviour and excessive drinking, which is a positive step, I don’t believe it has really been a problem to begin with. It is certainly a miniscule issue in comparison to 2009 where it was quite regular that someone in hall would be taken home in the security van on a Friday night, lying in a pool of his or her own vomit.”
    This seems to be contradictory since, surely, somebody lying in a pool of their own vomit constitutes excessive drinking and even anti social behaviour since it isn’t exactly what people want to see or what security want to be dealing with…
    I do agree that it should be our choice to do some of these things though.

  • Susan

    Whilst I appreciate the principle behind the no drinking zones… I think they might be backfiring slightly. Having had a heavy pre-drinks in a common room on campus a few weeks back, my friends and I headed down to the union, cans in hand… we were stopped by the corner of EHB Pitch and told, by union/campus security, that we couldn’t drink past that point, and that we should finish our beverages before continuing… effectively we were told to down it!! Contradicts the whole purpose of no-drinking zones surely?

    The rule just makes drinking less visible but certainly still happens! Perhaps it will help change attitudes to drinking in the future, though?

  • Mr Realpolitik

    Like Jack, I started out in Loughborough back in the 09/10
    days which was certainly a very different Loughborough to what we have now,
    with fresher helpers visiting our blocks with party invitations, offering
    student support/advise, mentoring and generally creating a more amicable and
    friendlier atmosphere. I now fear that Loughborough has changed its attitude
    and culture – I feel the culture is becoming much more passive-aggressive, less
    social and more isolated than ever before.

    That said, I do agree that we need to reduce the amount of alcohol
    intake to help future taxpayers with the burdens of an increasing NHS budget to
    cope with the amount of liver transplants and health issues in the coming
    years. I feel that Loughborough should preserve its unique ‘Student Experience’
    culture, by focusing on the QUALITY of its student night outs rather than the
    QUANTITY of its nights at the union. By having fewer LSU Nights during the
    midweek, it will help students focus on other extra-curricular activities
    during the week (such as Salsa dancing,
    languages, sports, debating, film etc) and then having our rendezvous nights
    out on the weekends, which will give a better ‘overall Loughborough experience’
    during their time at Loughborough University. I also feel less activities
    should be advertised on Facebook and promoting more ‘after-class announcements’
    about an up and coming event – to fuel an incandescent atmosphere of liveliness
    and passion Loughborough once had.