This morning, Loughborough university issued a statement announcing their involvement in a new national project to “encourage responsible drinking leading to safer and more productive places to study and live” along with Brighton, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester Met, Nottingham, Royal Holloway and Swansea University.
The government and the National Union of Students have organized the pilot scheme launched on May 27 and named it the ‘NUS Alcohol Impact Project’. Funded by the home office the scheme is costing around £90,000 for the one year-trial. This funding is likely to increase if the project runs into a second year, with the long term goal that the scheme will be funded by the universities themselves.
The institutions involved will encourage responsible alcohol policy and are working towards an accreditation that will be a “badge of honour” for the university. The overall aim of the project is to reduce alcohol related crime and health issues.
Being fully aware that binge drinking is an ongoing problem not only at the involved universities but also on a national level, Norman Baker, Crime Prevention Minister said “Binge drinking at universities is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea”.
Baker also added “Some students find themselves encouraged to participate in alcohol-fuelled activities which can damage health and in some cases spill over into disorder and anti-social behavior”.
Anti-social behavior by university students is clearly already an issue in and around the Loughborough campus, especially for those residing in student-populated areas. The Epinal published an article recently about the disturbance that loud, drunken students were having on local residents, and it is this kind of alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour that could be a contributing factor to why Loughborough is one of the few universities that have signed up to this pilot project.
The project aims to make initiation ceremonies and bar crawls a thing of the past on university campuses, giving recognition to those who prevent the occurrence of these kind of activities. With many sport and social societies in Loughborough being notorious for their gruelling and alcohol-fuelled initiations, ceremonies and parties, this scheme will attempt to encourage the removal of these kinds of behaviours.
The instigators of the project have reiterated that it is not a scheme to completely curb the selling and consumption of alcohol at the participating universities, but is a way of encouraging more sensible alcohol consumption and aims to put a stop to the binge drinking culture and create “a social norm of responsible consumption by students at the pilot institutions” – NUS vice-president Colum McGuire
The schemes long-term goals are to make universities safer and more productive places to live and study through the reduction of mass alcohol consumption. The scheme has “the welfare of students at its core” and hopes to make universities more welcoming for those who don’t drink alcohol, as well as improving partnerships within local communities by reducing crime and disorder, a change some feel is desperately needed in the Loughborough area to improve the town-gown relationship.
Loughborough Vice Chancellor Robert Allison said Loughborough was “Delighted to be participating in the pilot project for the Home Office-NUS Alcohol Impact Project” and said the project was a “natural extension” of such campaigns already run by the Loughborough Students’ Union such as the ‘Better Decisions’ campaign.