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University throws out first draft of policy update to restrict alcohol service on campus

Photo by Justin Labelle

EVER HEAD DOWN to 1848 on a Friday night and order a shot? How about splitting a pitcher of beer with a friend after class?

A proposed update to the University of Ottawa’s liquor policy that would have banned those drink orders from its student-run bars has been scrapped.

The new set of rules would have controlled how alcohol is served on campus, building on policies last updated in 1975. The university recognized the need for an update at the beginning of the school year, and Food Services began revisions in collaboration with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

Food Services brought forth a proposal last week that would eliminate shots of hard liquor and make pitchers available only to be split between three or more people. The SFUO felt the new rules were over the line and the proposal was tossed.

“We’re starting from scratch, which is exactly what we want,” said Anne-Marie Roy, vp communications at the SFUO.

Once a policy update is successfully established, the new rules will apply to student-run bars, which include 1848 and the yet-to-be-reopened Café Nostalgica. Other pubs on campus will not face the same restrictions.

“The purpose is to make sure that whatever we have in terms of policy, we match whatever the requirements are out there,” said Patrick Charette, the U of O’s director of communications.

He said the university wishes to promote responsibility and self-accountability and wants to work with the student federation to achieve the objective.

“Responsible drinking—it’s everywhere now,” said Charette. “It’s not reflected in the policy, and that’s what we want.”

Roy said the recent draft of the policy was something that “snuck up on everyone.” The SFUO and Food Services held meetings throughout the fall semester, but those became less frequent and started being cancelled and not rescheduled.

“And oh, suddenly there’s a draft for the policy,” Roy explained.

The SFUO met with Food Services on Jan. 30 to raise their concerns, which led to the draft being thrown out.

The proposed update would have also required patrons to swipe their student cards upon entering and leaving the bar, according to Roy, and the SFUO would have been required to send a report to the university every week with the names of students and the times they came and went from the bar.

“It was kind of also infringing on privacy, but it was also specifically targeting revenue at student-run businesses,” she said.

Roy added that university president Allan Rock and vp of administration and governance Diane Davidson are “allies” going forward with the policy update.

“They were very surprised and also very disappointed to see that we weren’t consulted on this particular policy,” she said.

Charette referred to the policy draft as a “false start,” but stressed the importance of keeping the university’s student bars up to date so that they better reflect the current social context.

“We don’t want to be a turnoff and kill the party,” said Charette. “We want to make sure we promote responsible drinking … and we put in place the right structure and policy to avoid any kind of unfortunate incident.”

Roy emphasized that the staff at 1848 are trained to make sure students are safe.

“That’s why the bar operates so smoothly, and that’s why we don’t have issues. It’s because our staff is very well trained to address these concerns,” she said.

Food Services will move forward in closer collaboration with the SFUO to establish a set of rules that both administration and students can agree on.


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