Campus alcohol policies old and fuzzy

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By Shane Dingman

We take it for granted that the rules say we aren’t allowed to drink booze on campus.

Analyze this with me for a minute though. Are we such babies that we can’t control ourselves? Does Papa Ryerson have to rip the bottle from our hands in order to save us from ourselves?

Ryerson’s current alcohol policies assume Papa is more responsible than you, but if the school fails to properly enforce or update those policies, how can it dictate to you how you should behave?

Amazingly, the campus alcohol policy hasn’t been updated since it was created in 1985. The reason it was written in the first place was because of a drinking-related death the year before at the annual parade and picnic.

So an event 16 years ago still guides our campus policies…or does it?

There are crucial sections of the document that are often flouted. Under the section titled Special Functions and Events it says that at any campus social functions where alcohol is to be served, non-alcoholic beverages must be free of charge.

With the exception of water from the tap, no free beverages are available at the special events such as pub nights and parties hosted at Oakham House and the Ram in the Rye.

The policy also says the availability of free non-alcoholic drinks must be “prominently displayed,” although I guess if you don’t have any that’s a moot point.

At Pitman Hall, Ryerson’s largest residence and a den of alcohol use, residence assistants regularly pour out the alcohol for those found drinking outside their rooms.

According to residence life manager Lucy Jakupi, RAs are allowed to use their own judgement about whether any other disciplinary steps should be taken.

But the campus alcohol policy outlines no such leeway. It says all students caught like that should be reported to the director of student services.

Alcohol advertising on campus isn’t supposed to portray drinking a solution to personal or academic problems, and can’t suggest that alcohol is necessary to social, sexual or academic success.

All find and good Papa, but advertising is a little more subtle than just saying “drink beer, be smarter.” If the point is to separate alcohol from the student experience, then beer companies such as Labatt and Molson shouldn’t be allowed to sponsor student events, or give our T-shirts that closely associate their logo with Ryerson, or use any number of subliminal branding techniques.

At last Friday’s parade and picnic any obviously drunk student was given a taxi slip and a sober chaperone (non-RyeSAC personnel only) to make their way home. This way part of a series of demands made before the school allowed this year’s parade to go forward.

But the alcohol policy specifically says students found in a drunken condition on campus will be sent hom eat their own expense, which strikes me as a mean and irresponsible thing for Papa Ryerson to do.

As a final insult, the policies do not lay out any consequences for breaking the rules. If the Ram in the Rye wants to flout the free drinks rule, and RyeSAC wants to give our taxi slips to students drunk on campus, there is no official punishment for violating policy. Papa, either put your teeth back in or modify your rules to match reality.

I’m not suggesting there ought to be no policies governing the consumption of alcohol on campus.

But if the body that sets the policy is inconsistent about applying its own rules, it loses its footing on the moral high ground that enabled it to make those rules in the first place. In other words, shape up or risk having your policy made into more of a joke than it already is.

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