More under age students
not a big headache
By Dan Perry
The percentage of students at Western below
the legal drinking age has quadrupled this year, which could
pose several problems for many services around campus.
According to University Students' Council
VP-student affairs Matt Huether, 15 per cent of the student
body was under 19 years old last year. That number, thanks to
the double cohort, has ballooned to 60 per cent this fall.
When asked what the USC had done to prepare
for the influx of young'uns, Huether noted Orientation Week
at Western has actually been dry since 2000.
If O-Week can be taken as an indication of
the year to come, this could be a quiet year on the underage
alcohol abuse front.
"Actually, there were [fewer] underage
drinking incidents this year than last year and more have happened
outside the scope of [O-Week] programming," Huether said,
pointing to a handful of Wet/Dry Card revocations that occurred
in non-O-Week events at The Wave and The Spoke.
Associate vice-president of housing & ancillary
services Susan Grindrod echoed the sentiment: "Orientation
Week went very well and all the people involved should be very
pleased," she said.
"For the most part, if a person's underage
and they've been drinking, and the police have reason to speak
to them, they can expect to be charged," said Elgin Austen,
interim director of Campus Community Police Services.
"[As well], if [underage students] sneak
into a bar, either by using improper identification or if they
breach the Wet/Dry Card contract, they can expect to be charged,"
On the front lines, however, it may be harder
to enforce the rules. Though Grindrod pointed to the multi-stepped
discipline program as an option in cases of alcohol abuse, she
also said dons cannot go from room to room searching for contraband.
Bruce Griffen, director of residence and hospitality
services at Queen's University, explained a similar policy in
residences there. "It's not a different policy [this year],"
he said. "We're not in the enforcement business. We're
not using master keys to enter student rooms if we suspect underage
drinking, unless there's some [danger to the resident].
"This week's been no different than any
other Frosh Week. In fact, there have been fewer incidents,"
Nadia Didomenico, six middle don in Saugeen-Maitland
Hall, discussed how to keep the residents safe.
"At floor meetings, we talk about being
responsible and drinking responsibly - whether you're of age
or not. It's difficult to stop [underage drinking] and we can't
police it, but if [the Student Emergency Response Team] is called,
for example, we'll take [disciplinary] action," Didomenico