Alcohol Education and Harm-Reduction Initiatives at Brock University
Brock University is committed to providing an exceptional student experience, both in and out of the classroom.
In September 2012, Associate Vice-President for Student Services, instructed a team of student services (brocku.ca/student-services) professionals to review the issue of student alcohol use on campus.
Brock adopted a series of best-practice protocols and following is a summary of the various campus initiatives implemented by the Brock University Students Union, the Department of Athletics, Student Health Services, the Student Conduct Office, Student Leadership and Community Experience, Off-Campus Housing, Campus Security and the Department of Residences.
Brock is committed to fostering an environment of responsible and lawful choices with regard to alcohol. Although a formal, comprehensive schedule of programs and events gets underway in August and runs through April, adherence to Brock’s best practices is expected year-round.
Brock’s stand-alone alcohol policy was developed with involvement from students, faculty and staff. It has been widely communicated across campus . It can be viewed at brocku.ca/webfm_send/1107
Through its stakeholders, Brock communicates and enforces municipal and provincial drinking laws, in addition to the Residence Agreement, Residence Community Guiding Principles and Student Code of Conduct. The alcohol policy has been integrated into a broad university health promotion framework that supports healthy decision-making, relationship building and connection to community.
In the residences, the University has restricted areas where alcohol can be consumed. There are alcohol-free areas in all residence complexes, accommodating about 300 students in total. Brock limits the number of persons in any private room to avoid parties. Also, the residence dons conduct a “party smart” program to educate students.
Beverage limitations discourage the swift or high-volume consumption of alcohol, such as:
• No drinking games or use of drinking-game paraphernalia.
• No bulk alcohol containers (e.g. kegs or Texas mickeys).
• Limit the size of alcohol beverage containers or quantity (e.g. no more than 500 ml. or six 12 oz. bottles/cans of beer) allowed in private rooms or at events.
• No alcohol in glass bottles allowed in residence.
For special events where alcohol is available and more student drinking is likely, Brock hires additional security, police and Residence Life staff. Regular parties/events that are non-alcoholic must also be held. All Department of Residences (brocku.ca/residence) events are non-alcoholic except the off-campus Dons’ Ball, where alcohol is served.
Brock provides students access to education on the safe and moderate service and consumption of alcohol. The focus is on new students and high-risk groups, such as sports teams. Student Health Services, Campus Security (brocku.ca/campus-security) and residence groups provide educational programming concerning alcohol.
The University requires mandatory annual training on alcohol use for all major student associations and organizations as well as all staff, volunteers and dons. It ensures wide availability and access to behavioural skills-based programs and brief intervention tools for students. Students must fill out in advance the online Risk Management Assessment Tool for any event or party (whether they are serving alcohol or not) to consider the risks associated with their event and strategies to mitigate these risks.
The Brock University Students’ Union (busu.net) mission statement provides a variety of programs, opportunities and services while creating an atmosphere and culture of acceptance, inclusion and tolerance. Recognizing that many first-year students are underage and that there are many student groups who choose not to drink for entertainment, BUSU offers alternative programming.
Student programming that involves the sale of alcohol commands BUSU to strictly follow provincial government guidelines and maintain regular communication with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario regarding regulations, recommendations and best practices.
BUSU has implemented many initiatives to protect the safety and security of students. It does not tolerate intoxication, illegal activity or unsafe behaviour at any of its events or venues. All staff members have Smart Serve which promotes the responsible sale of alcohol. They also have first aid training.
BUSU often hires uniformed Niagara Regional Police (NRP) officers for busy nights or major events. Having a visible police presence discourages fighting and underage drinking. The University’s online incident reporting system is monitored by the Brock University Office of Student Conduct. The BUSU Foot Patrol is present on pub nights to help students get safely back to residences, bus or cab lines or a parking lot.
BUSU works with various other clubs and student organizations to support alcohol education programming and promote safe drinking practices on and off campus. During Orientation Week, BUSU runs a Condom Poker event to raise awareness of safe sex issues as well as off-campus resident events for first-year students that are alcohol free, such as hikes and BBQs.
Brock’s Department of Athletics (brocku.ca/student-life/experience-life/recreation-athletics) does not allow alcohol at athletic events and limits alcohol promotions of any kind. Harm-reduction initiatives are written into several Athletics policies. For instance, alcohol cannot be carried or consumed in vehicles used for team transportation, and is not allowed in accommodations provided and booked through the department. As well, coaches are expected to know and comply with the Campus Alcohol Policy and Practices document.
The department forbids any initiation program that involves alcoholic consumption and will severely penalize teams and individuals engaging in unacceptable practices. The University may also levy sanctions.
Student Health Services (brocku.ca/health-services) provides alcohol education along with medical advice in a variety of formats, including:
• Discussions with students during medical appointments
• Weekly seminars about alcohol
• Peer education programs
Health Services manages the Drinking Choices Seminar (DCS) alcohol education program. Students who violate the University Code of Conduct or Residence Community Guiding Principles must participate in the DCS.
Internal and external services (i.e. Health Services, Campus Security and Red Frogs) provide support and advice for non-alcohol activities and for events such as Orientation Week or St. Patrick’s Day, that typically see higher-risk alcohol behaviour.
Student Life and Community Experience (brocku.ca/student-life-community-experience) has implemented the Don’t Be A Donkey awareness campaign that focuses on poor choices a student might make while under the influence of alcohol. The campaign is publicized through various media, such as beverage coasters, social media outlets, community engagement stations, vendor fairs and posters.
Student Life and Community Experience utilizes the Off-Campus Living and Neighbourhood Relations website (brocku.ca/ocl) for student access to a variety of “responsible citizenship” resources, including the Good Neighbour Guide and Student Success Off-Campus Guide.
At Brock, the issue of alcohol use — and misuse — is taken very seriously. The University is actively policing, educating and providing awareness to students about the effects and consequences of dangerous drinking. It has initiated and implemented many programs and services to keep the campus safe for all.