Clubs & Societies reminded to adhere to NUS Alcohol Awareness Policy

Royal Holloway’s recently revised Alcohol Awareness Policy has been causing controversy at the beginning of the new academic year amongst societies and clubs on campus. The Orbital has been informed that a certain society , not affliated with the Students’ Union, has been called in to speak to the College, to remind them that committees need to ensure society-led events encourage sensible consumption of alcohol.

College have stated that they will take disciplinary action against students who misuse alcohol on College premises or encourage or pressurise others to do so.

It is understood that the society in question was called in to speak to the College regarding a planned pub crawl during fresher’s week, over concerns that the misuse of alcohol may have been encouraged during the event. Reportedly, the society’s committee were told they would be held responsible if behaviour during the event was contrary to that encouraged in the College alcohol policy, and if their behaviour reflected badly upon the University. The College signed up to the Home Office backed, NUS led Alcohol Impact project in May of this year. The initiative has been signed up to by six other UK universities, with the aim of promoting responsible drinking and having a positive impact upon student health and well-being.

In response to the unhappiness caused by the policy in some students on campus, the Orbital spoke to Senior Student Wellbeing Officer, Helen Groenendaal who told us ‘It has been College’s policy for several years, under the alcohol and drugs policy, to oppose the encouragement of drinking.’ When asked if the University had previously had cause to discipline students over the misuse of alcohol the College stated that: ‘The College has not had cause to formally discipline a student for encouraging others to drink excessively and we hope this is a reflection of the sensible behaviour prevalent here. There is however a regulation forbidding this encouragement and we do draw it to the attention of any student or student group we learn is organising an event that centres on the consumption of alcohol.’ No other societies or clubs have been spoken to this year as none have been drawn to our attention.

Following the wave of initiations that fill the first weeks of the year, we also asked whether the College was concerned about the culture of binge drinking surrounding initiations and if any sports clubs had been warned about standards of behaviour, to which we were told ‘College has discussed managing sports clubs initiations with the Students’ Union to ensure problems do not arise.’ Whilst the Students’ Union is working with College to support the Alcohol Awareness Policy, no steps have been taken to change the Student Activities current initiations policy.

Further publicity regarding the Alcohol Awareness Policy is expected to be released by the College in the future. Meanwhile, further information about the University policy regarding alcohol and substance misuse can be found on the e-campus webpage