[Image Credit: Shay]
Today the students of Lonsdale College received an ominous email from the College Administrator Juli Shorrock about a “Drunkenness Crackdown,” leaving many students baffled with no explanation as to why this sudden order has been put in place. After the recent threat of closure to the Red Lion bar last year, surely this is the last thing the bar needs when trying to attract business?
According to the email “students found in Lonsdale bar or coming out of the bar who appear to be drunk to a porter, college officer or assistant dean will be required to identify themselves and will be summoned to a disciplinary hearing.” Firstly, lets address the statement “students who appear to be drunk,” does this mean the college has some kind of drunk barometer to measure a students drunkenness? Maybe they will be required to do a walk placing one foot in front of other, possibly take a breath test or even recite a riddle? Secondly, students must “identify yourselves” besides from sounding like a line from the Harry Potter film with Dolores Umbridge instigating a dictatorship on the students, why must we have to “identify” ourselves to the College? As far as I am aware the bar is open to students and non-students alike, are they going to discipline any Joe Bloggs off the street who is a little bit pickled in the bar?
What has shocked students the most however is the threat of an extortionate fine by the College if they are seen to be “drunk.” Students will be fined £200 for “being drunk,” the same price as a deposit for a single room in a Lonsdale residence, £250 for “buying a drink for someone who is drunk” and £250 for “selling a drink to someone who is drunk.” Under section 5 of the Public Order Act being “drunk and disorderly” can land you £80 fine, a fraction of the price in comparison to Lonsdale’s £200, and this only applies when someone is showing threatening or disturbing behaviour. It is not a crime to be drunk,* especially in a University bar and introducing fines for students being drunk in a bar is like fining a football fan for being drunk in a pub before the match.
In recent years the Lonsdale JCR has worked tirelessly to get more students to go to the College bar by putting on events, drink deals and socials. The bar was almost shut down due to lack of custom, so this latest action by the College is baffling. Surely this will put students off going to the bar and probably once again bring about the threat of closure. Many students have taken to the social networks to express their disbelief and have emailed back in response which has been “forwarded to the dean.” Alex Roberts, former Lonsdale JCR member and Red Lion bar staff, sent an email in response to the fines stating “I appreciate that you have to be responsible and look after the welfare of myself and my fellow students… (But) these students who allow themselves to get into this condition will not stop doing so simply because the college bar will fine them. They will simply get into that condition somewhere else. Somewhere that will be further from their homes, further from the support network currently provided by the college, and therefore further away from safety.”
It will be interesting to see how the College polices this new regulation throughout the year, especially at big inter-college events such as founders and Extrav, which are usually the most popular socials and prime money making events for the bar, not to mention how this will affect Freshers Week 2014…
By Lizzie Roberts
*As it has been noted in the comments, I would just like to clarify that I have now learnt that it in fact a crime to be drunk in public place, whether you are causing a public disturbance or not. Please excuse that incorrect statement.