By Kyle Robinson
Rhodes representatives and Grahamstown businesses with liquor licences gathered on 4 April at a public forum to report back on a previous meeting regarding alcohol abuse during Alchohol Awareness Week in the first term.
Grahamstown businesses have agreed to continue to report back to Rhodes University on any incidences of drunken student behaviour. These businesses included The Rat and Parrot, Olde 65, Equilibrium, Die Tap Huijs and Pick n’ Pay, who all expressed their support for responsible alcohol consumption.
Although the pubs refused to close earlier at night, all agreed to limit drink specials, such as ‘buy-one-get-one-free’, as well as to raise punch prices and make recipes less potent. Pick ‘n’ Pay agreed to end advertising ‘Crackling’, a popular alcoholic beverage, and to assist in spreading alcohol awareness by putting up posters.
Rhodes Student Services Officer Larissa Klazinga commended the efforts of the businesses. “[It is] important that we try form a partnership with these business owners. They need the support of the students and we need them to be responsible,” she said. However, a great concern for members of the forum was that Friar Tucks and local bottle stores did not attend the meeting.
This year there has been a concentrated effort on limiting alcohol abuse at Rhodes. De Klerk is determined to take measures to end Rhodes’ drinking reputation. The Responsible Alcohol Use Policy, which came into effect at the start of the year, is the driving force which “aims to create and maintain a safe and pleasant campus environment which supports the health and well-being of students”. The policy and its many objectives and will be reviewed in three years time.
The policy introduced five new Admission of Guilt fines regarding public drunken behaviour such as vomiting, urinating, indecent exposure and ‘boot parties’ – these have been referred to Senate. Wardens will now have a wider range of disciplinary action available to them.
As an alternative to drinking in town, a late night coffee shop will be established on campus, situated next to the Oppidan Dining Hall. A survey will be released next week to help decide the hours and what services the shop will offer. Ingrid Cloete, SRC vice-president external, said that people come to the SRC saying, “There’s nothing else in Grahamstown to do except drink, so give us something else to do.” She hopes that this initiative will be a step towards solving that problem.
Societies have also faced limitations in holding functions that serve alcohol, with restrictions of four cups of wine or punch per person. All societies’ budgets were cut so that more money would be allocated to the Societies’ Council, which will see to proper expenditure for events that fulfil the society’s mandate. This is one of the reasons for RAFSOC’s closure; one of the most popular societies which managed to donate R20 000 to the SRC in 2007. De Klerk said she was sorry they had to close down and commends their attempts to adopt responsible alcohol consumption.
“Our ultimate aim,” said Cloete, “is to create awareness around the issue of alcohol abuse and get societies to buy into the responsible approach.” Cloete also says the Dean of Students “wants to accommodate students and not act like a police force”. However, some students still resent the restrictions. Clive Eley, a thi
rd year student, said, “[The restrictions] undermine people’s ability to discern for themselves reality.”