By Jess Levy
Alcohol Awareness Week was held 11 to 15 February and organised by the Dean of Students Division with the intention of changing students’ attitudes towards alcohol.
Assistant Dean of Students Larissa Klazinga said the aim of the week was to “change the culture of drinking at Rhodes from one of excess to one of responsibility”.
“According to a recent survey alcohol abuse has escalated,” she said. The survey, based on that of the World Health Organisation appeared on Studentzone in late 2007. The results classified 10% of students as alcohol dependent, 33% of students as hazardous alcohol abusers and 9% as harmful alcohol abusers. The 2007 Quality of Residence Life Survey also showed that 37% of students have been disturbed by other students’ alcohol abuse. As a result, similiar campaigns will be run twice a year.
Klazinga said these findings also provide them with “the impetus to start making changes”. Changes may include the possibility of opening a late night coffee shop in the Steve Biko Student Union as an alternative to a place that sells alcohol.
An O-Week Drama production, commissioned by Dean of Students Vivian de Klerk, also featured in the awareness week with the primary intent to educate students, first years in particular, on issues such as gender discrimination, racism and alcohol abuse. Klazinga described the show as a “catalyst for discussion” and said the reviews were brilliant.
“I really thought it was insightful and I like the way they used comedy to portray essential messages,” said first year student Nation Nyoka.
The Save Tri-Varsity Debate on 18 February formed part of the week and received a lot of support. Klazinga felt heartened by how many people came and said there was productive discussion.
Rhodes University met with the owners of major liquor outlets in Grahamstown during the Publican’s Forum with the purpose of working together to resolve the alcohol abuse issue.
The highlight of this week is the launch of a hall-based competition, set by the Dean of Students, in which there is a prize of R2000 for the hall which manages to create the most successful non-alcoholic event with the best student attendance during the first semester.
The Dean of Students office said they took this initiative in the best interests of the students. “[We are] trying to treat our constituency with respect,” said Klazinga.