january 8, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 54  

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Underground invasion?

Alcohol seems to be giving the University Students’ Council a perpetual hangover this year.

In September, the USC was forced to eliminate the Wet/Dry Program after a couple underage students were caught drinking in The Wave by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The new year has brought with it another problem, one that likely affects more students. After looking for a new insurance package (as student unions are doing at many other universities), the USC found one, but it is stuck paying twice the amount for insurance as it did last year while getting a lot less coverage.

Unable to get full liquor liability coverage, council is forcing clubs to hold any events involving alcohol at The Spoke or The Wave (the two on campus bars it owns, which for the organization is perhaps the one convenient part of this mess) unless the clubs can get their own event-specific insurance coverage or coverage under another venue’s policy.

Clearly, something has to be done.

Clubs are not interested in only having alcohol-related events at The Spoke or The Wave, and we would not be surprised to see a lot of events go underground.

USC general manager Mark Sellars warned club presidents yesterday that organizers of any unapproved alcohol-related events would be held personally liable if anything were to go wrong. But when one president asked what the consequences would be if a club held a dry event at a bar and someone had a drink, it was obvious what his real question was: how can we get around the rules?

It is difficult to attack the USC for this problem. Sept. 11 and a bumpy economy have wreaked havoc on the insurance industry, and insurers aren’t interested in providing alcohol liability coverage to (high risk) student groups.

It is much easier to blame lawyers and the court system. If we didn’t live in a society where a venue or organizer of a party gets blamed after some moron drinks and drives and gets killed, this wouldn’t be an issue. In an ideal world, individuals would be responsible for their own actions.

But this isn’t an ideal world. And further, not everyone follows the rules. The more “underground” events get, the more dangerous they become.

If something bad does happen because a club circumvents the Alcohol Policy, it will likely be because someone didn’t want to be bothered trying to get event-specific insurance or jump through the bureaucratic hoops.

The Gazette is calling on the USC and the university to do everything they can to deal with the situation. We also call on club organizers to jump through the hoops until the situation betters itself, unless you’d like to risk your own bank accounts (and more) on throwing an unauthorized pub.



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