New committee debates alcohol issues on campus

Despite having a new committee to discuss alcohol issues on campus, university administration and UMSU have yet to agree on certain issues concerning alcohol regulations.

The alcohol awareness advisory committee (AAAC), created in August, is comprised of representatives from university administration, UMSU, the Graduate Students’ Association, Aramark, and the Resident Student Association, among others.

UMSU president, Camilla Tapp, said the university is using the committee to try and get a consensus on alcohol-related issues.

“On major issues we are still very far apart,” she said.

Tapp said that since the committee was formed, there has been a survey of residence students to look at drinking habits and the “concerning practices” that have been seen after the bus ban.

She said the bus ban and the occasional permit regulatory changes have both been “big issues.”

The province and the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission made a regulation change to allow occasional permit events to stay open until 2 a.m., said Tapp.

According to Tapp, UMSU supported the change because it would make campus events more appealing to students, prevent more people from going to bars or pubs after a university event, and reducing the potential for drinking and driving.
“Unfortunately, the university has chosen [ . . . ] to not implement this regulatory extension and will only permit occasional permit events on campus to stay open until 1 a.m.,” said Tapp.

Tapp said the bus ban, a ban on using rented buses as transportation between campus and bars or pubs in the city, is a “major issue” at the AAAC meetings.
Tapp said the university based the ban on an “overly aggressive interpretation of legal liability” and a “stereotyping of all rented buses as ‘party buses.’”

“This policy has resulted in students making unsafe choices travelling to and from events,” Tapp said. “Despite constant efforts by UMSU since the ban was first introduced, we have been unsuccessful at getting it overturned.”

Alan Simms, U of M associate vice-president (administration), said the main goal of the committee is to increase awareness of alcohol-related issues and advise on potential liabilities at university events.

Simms said that because of safety, risk to university property, and security staffing, the 1 a.m. closing time remains for the occasional permit hours. After the campus pub The Hub has been operating for a while, they will review these options, he said.

Simms said the ban on bus trips to alcohol-related events is still in effect at the U of M because the trips pose a possible risk to students and staff.

“There is also a sense of false safety and security for students who may feel that such trips are approved or ‘overseen’ by the university, which they are not,” said Simms.

Simms said the committee is discussing a marketing strategy for alcohol awareness and a campaign that will try to reduce binge drinking.

When asked about the committee, the Resident Student Association Council said they had no comment.

Silke McLeod, a U1 student, said she thinks buses picking students up from events is “a great option” and said it is shocking the university doesn’t allow them.
“That doesn’t really make sense considering university students are young; they want to experience the city,” McLeod said.

Laura Kalyta, a second-year science student, said she doesn’t think alcohol consumption is an issue on campus.

“Just to have a beer with some friends, I don’t think that’s a bad issue,” Kalyta said. “When people go overboard with it, that’s what makes it an issue.”

Kalyta said she thinks providing buses to and from events is a good thing because it prevents people from considering other transportation options, such as drinking and driving.

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