This article originally appeared in The Aquinian, St. Thomas University’s student newspaper, on February 11, 2019.
By: Haley Stairs
Proposed changes to the University of New Brunswick’s alcohol policy is raising eyebrows instead of pitchers.
UNB presented an update to the alcohol policy on campus during a University of New Brunswick Student Union council meeting on Jan. 27. One piece of the policy, called Community Standards, has been deemed “controversial,” said Richard Du, the president of UNBSU.
This includes two new rules: no caffeinated beverages will be sold in campus bars and there’s a two-drink maximum for each order.
Pitchers to be pitched out?
Pat Hanson, the operations manager at The Cellar, said he’s been waiting for these proposed changes to come up since their lease was extended last year.
“This is something they’ve been talking about for over 10 years now, and it kept getting pushed off and pushed off and pushed off,” he said.
He heard about the proposed changes about a month or two ago. He said he was meeting with administration on Feb. 6 to discuss it. The administration also reached out to the manager of the College Hill Social Club and the management of the Grad House.
“It’ll be a much bigger pain in the ass for the staff, for sure,” he said.
“I just don’t see the need for the university to take it upon themselves to add extra rules on top of the rules we already have in place.”
Hanson wonders why this piece of the policy is called Community Standards.
“Which I find funny, they [say] Community Standards. This is well before they talked to any of the students … what community are we talking about here? The community of UNB administration or the community of the actual university?”
Hanson doesn’t think the administration should have the power to dictate what bars and other establishments can do on campus.
“Now it seems like the people that have the power at the university are the university administration and they just do whatever they want, right? And they expect the students and/or staff, faculty to just blindly follow along … the admin doesn’t have any business telling adults what they can and can’t do, that is legal activity,” he said.
Despite these potential changes to how alcohol is served on campus, Hanson doesn’t believe his business will be affected.
“The Cellar is not going anywhere.”
The proposed rules would apply to any establishment on campus that serves alcohol. According to Du, the College Hill Social Club, Grad House and any events, like sports games that serve alcohol, will be affected by this policy change.
The UNB Alcohol on Campus policy was approved by the Alcohol Policy Advisory Group on Nov. 6, 1998 and was last updated on April 3, 2009. Du said the university started to update the policy in the summer and consulted the UNBSU throughout the process.
“The way that we looked at it is, this is not an update to the policy, these are just brand new rules that were [slid] into this new policy,” said Du.
The Union believes these new rules could cause students to drink off-campus where there aren’t resources for them like staff from campus bars, the Student Union Building, Residence Life, SafeWalk, SafeRide, Campus Patrol and UNB Security.
The UNBSU released a statement on their website on Jan. 31, saying it opposes the changes.
“While we strongly support a safe drinking environment on campus, we do not believe these proposed changes are a step forward towards this goal,” the statement read.
Mark Walma, the assistant vice-president student services, is the chair of the Alcohol Policy Review Task Group. The group was created to update the policy and primarily includes administration and students, like Du.
Walma said they’re pleased with the feedback they’ve received so far. He said they’ll review and modify the recommendations before they bring them to UNB management for approval.
‘You are not reducing alcohol harms’
Malory Forbes has been a server at The Cellar for two years and she believes the potential changes will make her job harder.
“If I have a table of 20 people, I don’t know who’s splitting with who, unless they tell me. They could say they’re splitting and drink it themselves, and I’m [liable]”
“We’re all mature enough to drink on our own, let alone having a bar staff and SUB staff that know when you’re done or need to stop serving you. We’re all trained here for a reason,” said Forbes.
According to Du, bar staff on campus are trained with Smart Serve, an alcohol training program for servers.
Wasiimah Joomun, the vice-president student life for St. Thomas University Students’ Union, said she thinks the goal of reducing binge drinking is a good idea, but the changes to this policy are not a solution.
“The approach is not a very holistic one. Just by eliminating features, you are not reducing alcohol harms on campus.”
Joomun said STUSU wasn’t consulted by administration when the policy draft was being written.
“I was a little bit taken aback that I saw that out there and we didn’t hear anything from them,” she said.
“They didn’t even consult us about it.”