* Johan le Roux is a fourth year BAccLLB student

SU makes the worst decision


I do not drink and have not done so for a number of years – this being for personal and religious reasons. One would think that I would be the first to make public my praise for the University’s new alcohol policy which effectively bans the storage, consumption and sale of alcohol in University residences. Not so.

Firstly, I would like to point out the glaring inconsistency in the University’s treatment of students – especially of first years.

The University is only willing to treat students as adults if and when it pleases University Admin­istration to do so. Let me demon­strate:

At this year’s “Dream Launch” event held at Coetzenburg Stadi­um, Dr Choice Makhetha issued a warning to all first years. In effect, she warned that they are respon­sible for their academic futures at Stellenbosch University, and that they will be treated as adults with respect to failing modules, failing their course, and so on. She went on to mention the recent spotlight on gender-based violence, the view being that those guilty of these crimes will be treated as adults in being met with the full severity of the law (a view with which all are in one accord).

However, the social lives of students are apparently open to interference. Apparently, it is ac­ceptable in the sight of University Administration to treat students as children by dictating morality.

This double-standard goes fur­ther than the alcohol policy. The entire welcoming period reeks of absolute immaturity. First years are forced to wear the same shirts to the Dream Launch, and those who arrived not having done so are lambasted by staff. First years are escorted around town by re­flective-vested, whistle-blowing, flag-waving house committees who seem to have taken up the profession of pre-school teacher. The vast majority of first years in residences are barred from go­ing out during welcoming week. First years are told to make flow­ers from bottles and to paint them with sponges before pinning them on a fence during cluster activities. The list can go on.

The University’s aim, it seems, is not to create meaningful expe­riences for students, but rather to create photo opportunities for an immaculate Twitter feed, at the expense of the maturity of first years and other students. On the other hand, the University seems hell-bent on destroying any event or tradition which creates actual unity and actual fun between and for first years (I am of course mak­ing reference to the welcoming activities conducted by University residences, which have been de­stroyed wholesale – but this is a topic for a different article).

Policy makers need to ask themselves this: are they adults, or are they children, and to what ex­tent are we willing to impose (with threat of expulsion) our subjective sense of how students ought to act.

Here is some food for thought: not once has the University made a dire attempt to encourage students staying privately to refrain out­right from using alcohol.

The alcohol policy is doomed to fail. If not at the hands of mass student action against the Univer­sity, it will be when another tragic accident occurs after a student has been drinking in town. This is the major flaw of the policy: one can­not prevent students from drink­ing outside of University property.

As to the claims that there is a link between gender-based vio­lence and the consumption of alco­hol, there is little which can be said in refute. However, as I have said, there is a large contingent of stu­dents who are still allowed to own and use alcohol in their private places of accommodation. Add­ed to this, again, is the snag that violence is just as possible after a night out on the town.

The effective reach of the alco­hol policy, thus, is very small, but the discontent it is going to cause cannot be understated.

The origins of the alcohol pol­icy are, to an extent, sickening. The University has used the tragic events of last year as an opportu­nity to create a policy whereby it can absolve itself of any liability going forward. It had found its martyr. And now the goal, which began with the non-renewal of the residence liquor licenses, has been achieved.

What then is to be done to prevent alcohol abuse? Well, just that. Pro­mote good values, good morals and good standards. Do not drink. Go to class. Treat women well. Stand up when elders enter the room. Get married. Have children. Be responsible. The problem is that the values of not engaging in binge drinking and not abusing women are a part of an interwoven set of values that is foreign to both our modern culture, and to the Uni­versity. I have serious doubts as to whether the alcohol policy is going to achieve anything.

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