Framework Document for College Alcohol Policy launched
The Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin TD, and the President of Limerick University, Roger Downer, launched a framework document for the formulation of a college alcohol policy today, Tuesday 9th October. It outlines a number of policy options as well as a methodology for developing a coordinated and effective set of procedures.
“Going to university is a wonderful experience – and, for some students, particularly in their first year, a stressful and difficult experience”, stated the Minister. “Making the best of college years, and coping with the worse of the challenges they pose, is greatly complicated by high-risk drinking and by dependence on alcohol.
That´s why one of the key actions called for by the National Alcohol Policy was the development of a campus alcohol policy which would promote sensible drinking among students and limit campus-related drinks industry sponsorship.”
The framework document was drafted following extensive consultations with the Universities and the Institutes of Technology as well as the Union of Students of Ireland (USI). It contains a range of policy options addressing areas such as:
- Support services for those with problems with alcohol
- Regulating the role of drink sponsorship and drinks reps within colleges
- Finding alternative sources of funding for alcohol sponsorship
- How the advertising of drinks and drink-related events should be carried out at third level institutions
- Education for students and staff on the use and abuse of alcohol
Speaking at the launch, the President of the University of Limerick, Dr Roger Downer said “In recent years we and our colleagues in the other universities and higher education colleges have become concerned about a number of alcohol related issues impinging on the campus community: about alcohol promotion practices on campus, and off campus when targeted at students; high-risk drinking among students; and the impact of this drinking pattern on student academic achievement and student personal problems. The Framework policy document being launched today will assist us in addressing these areas of concern.
However, the policy guidelines proposed reflect an integrated and balanced approach. This is important. We are not in the business of wanting to be campus ´joy-killers´. We want to encourage on one hand those who do drink, to do so responsibly, thus moderating the demand for alcohol, and on the other hand, to prevent commercial interests from excessive alcohol promotion to the campus community.”
Essential to both the production of the document and its adoption has been the input from the students. As Richard Hammond, President of the Union of Students in Ireland pointed out.
“The key group to benefit from this process will be the students themselves as it will positively effect both their health and welfare. And because we´ve been involved from the very start, students’ views have been taken on board in its development. This document is a key component of the alcohol awareness campaign, and we hope that its future success will pave the way for further student focused health issues.”
Minister Martin said he hoped that all colleges would have a comprehensive alcohol policy in place by the start of the new college year in October 2002. This would give authorities and students sufficient time to consider the various issues involved and put in place the necessary structures to accomplish the policy goals.