Freshers’ Week clampdown scorned

first_imgA government initiative to curb freshers’ week drinking has been met with scepticism by Oxford JCRs.After taking part in a Downing Street seminar on the levels of binge drinking among British students, Gordon Brown and his policy team are investigating whether the Higher Education Funding Council can use its powers to ban universities from encouraging excessive drinking on their campuses. Freshers’ weeks across Oxford could be affected if the government pushes through plans universities on the matter. Professor Oliver James, a liver disease specialist and head of the medical faculty at Newcastle University, told Gordon Brown about the levels of excessive drinking he had seen at his own campus. He said, “I was concerned and appalled by the level of drinking which goes on in Freshers’ Week, not just at Newcastle but at every university in the country. This kind of thing just gratifies the binge drinking culture. The induction period is no longer just a week too, at many universities it can last for two or even three weeks.” However, both JCR presidents and other groups in Oxford expressed their doubts as to whether such bans would be effective. In response to the news Louise Randall, OUSU Vice President for Welfare, said, “Many students choose to celebrate their new found freedom with a few drinks in Fresher’s week. However, many also make the choice not to drink, either because they choose not to, or because they cannot. “Any attempt to actively discourage drinking during Fresher’s week will simply lead to student drinking being pushed underground, with potentially dangerous consequences.” Tom Callard, JCR President at Oriel College, said, “We are always careful not to bias the Freshers’ timetable in favour of drinkers and there are always plenty of non-alcoholic activities. On our timetable we actually have no scheduled club nights – we organize things like bus tours, paint-ball and films, and if  people want to go out in the evenings then it is up to them.” He pointed out, “I don’t think we’d have to change anything if this new legislation came in – we already abide by it.”The proposal for a clampdown will be discussed at Downing Street in spring with contributions from organisations such as the Portman Group, which promote responsible drinking. by Katherine Hall, Deputy News Editorlast_img

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