Wet/Dry halted after Gov't scrutiny
USC considering options after
By Laura Katsirdakis
The University Students' Council's Wet/Dry program, which allows
underage students to enter campus bars on the condition they
do not consume alcohol, has been suspended indefinitely.
"Students should assume for the immediate future that the Wet/Dry program is over," said Mark Sellars, general manager of the USC. The program has been in place for approximately ten years.
"The [Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario] did an inspection of The Wave on Friday night around midnight and discovered three underage girls with alcohol," Sellars explained. "We have not yet heard what the impact of this will be," he said, adding that as a proactive step, use of the Wet/Dry program will be stopped.
Students should not throw away their Wet/Dry cards, Sellars said, noting the program will likely come back in a different form.
When the AGCO met with the university administration and USC representatives earlier this year, they recommended discontinuing the mixing of underage and other patrons in campus bars as it could be a significant liability. "[Accomplishing this] would require significant changes to the modus operandi of campus bars," Sellars said.
"About 70 per cent of Saugeen's population are underage and many will be underage all year long," said Dan Smith, manager of The Spoke and The Wave. There have been nights with 200 to 300 underage students in [The Wave] at once, he said. Some first-year students are as young as 15 years old this year.
"The rules of the game have changed," Smith noted, adding Wet/Dry will not die, it will only change. "We have become a higher risk zone [for underage drinking]."
"The reality is that the Wet/Dry program has been abused," Smith added.
It is too soon to know what will result from last Friday's incident, said Ab Campion, spokesperson for the AGCO. There are two things that could happen, he explained: the London Police Department may lay charges with respect to the violation of the liquor license act, leaving the possible penalty for the courts to decide. The AGCO could also take administrative disciplinary action, which may result in the university's liquor license being revoked, suspended or having new conditions attached to it.
Campion denied the double cohort prompted the AGCO to step up their investigations. Still, the AGCO met with most universities this year to make sure they all stringently apply the liquor license act, he confirmed.
"[The AGCO] will be monitoring the situation very closely," Campion added. "The regulatory regime applies to all license holders."
"It's not fair to punish everyone because a few random people broke the rules," said Julia Cetnar, a first-year kinesiology student, "This will just mean that underagers will go to keggers and drink in a much more uncontrolled situation." Cetnar noted she will not be 19 until halfway through her second year.
"You wouldn't happen to know the names [of the underage students who were caught cheating?" asked Jonathan Dawson, a first-year actuarial science student.