By Alex Hamlyn
The typical evening of underage drinking in residence goes something like this: organize a booze run with an amoral older friend sometime during the day, get together with a few selected friends in your respective rooms so as not to draw suspicion, get sloshed, and head on out to the common areas to party it up. Puke, rinse, and repeat as necessary.
Now, I know you’re shocked, but believe it my sheltered friends. According to a few underage indulgers, majority-aged residence mates are more than happy to help them along, so long as the youth are willing to “flip them the change”. After all, they’ve been there themselves.
While the revelers at the Ram in the Rye are keeping it mature and responsible, residents in campus housing are living a little more dangerously.
“One time I woke up in the back of an ambulance strapped down,” remembers Alvin, an 18 year old living in Pitman. “My friend and I drank an obscene amount of whisky and were partying all night in res.”
While one of his friends was running around claiming to be Ryerson’s star quarterback, Alvin passed out on someone’s bed on the 13th floor. That’s when someone got spooked and called the ambulance.
“I spent the night in St. Michael’s and walked home, accidentally forgetting to return my hospital gown or reading material.”
Campus Security, like a savvy parent, is quite aware illegal reveling happens. “[Underage drinking] is one of the most serious offenses and we follow up on it. It’s more important to us that students are safe and educated than to go out of our way to penalize them,” says Glenn Weppler, housing manager, “I would say about 60 per cent of residence students are under the legal drinking age, in comparison to about 40 per cent four or five years ago.”
He notes that dropping Grade 13 significantly changed how Ryerson approaches the matter of underage drinking, including how they plan annual events, like hosting an alcohol-free frosh week.
Students in residence receive three demerit points if they are caught drinking underage. A resident of Pitman needs 5 demerits to be put on notice. While some privileges can be revoked, that is usually decided on a case by case basis; the only thing that demerits affect directly is a student’s ability to apply for a housing leadership or RA position.
Not surprisingly some students feel they are treated harshly by RAs for the relatively minor indiscretion. These same students maintain that partying at Ryerson doesn’t compare with the hedonism at other schools.
“I’m from Kingston, I know what it’s like at Queen’s,” says Bill, another first-year in Pitman.
“[Events like Homecoming] get totally insane. They have to borrow riot police from nearby cities.”
The police of 51 Division hardly have to respond to Ryerson in such a way.
“[Ryerson] is very well behaved,” says Staff Sergeant Randy Carter. He added that while police do get called to the school occasionally, it hasn’t been to any degree to take note.
“The number of students who do drink to dangerous levels is very small,” says Lawrence Robinson, head of campus security. He adds that by working together with the Campus Alcohol Responsibility Educators (CARE) the security staff are working to make sure students feel comfortable when worried for the safety and well-being of themselves and fellow students.