University – where your social life comes alive, right? Well in some cases, wrong! I recently started at Queens University in Belfast. I was so excited about starting University, and like my friends, I was buzzing about freshers’ week but boy was I disappointed! Walking from the main building of Queens to the Students Union the street was alive with nervous, though clearly excited, first years along with a number of promoters waiting to hand out what seemed to be a never-ending supply of advertisements and offers.
At first I approached many of these promoters with great anticipation to see what offers they had in store for us students. I’ve never been one to say no to discounts or even better, free stuff! But after the first few promoters I had given up. Each time I was handed a leaflet I looked at it disappointingly as I realised it was another offer for, yep, you guessed it, alcohol.
‘Buy one drink get one free’, ‘get in to the Stiff Kitten free for two weeks with this token!’, ‘excellent drink offers, £2 cocktails!’, ‘get a free drink at Eg’… need I continue? Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink. Promoters for Box, M Club, Stiff Kitten, The Bot, they were everywhere! My friends took many of the vouchers and leaflets with great excitement and were quickly planning where they would go each night to get the cheapest drink. As for me, I put most of it in the bin.
I’m not a drinker. Yes that’s right, a student that doesn’t drink! So, what about me? What was I meant to do over fresher’s? Sure I could still go with my friends and just not drink, but, there’s only so many times you can enjoy being the ‘sober friend’ who has to look after everyone and make sure they get home safe after drinking themselves into a state.
I know University students have a harsh reputation for being alcoholics and drinking more than they study. I now know why. It’s practically forced upon us! There’s nothing wrong with going out with your mates for a night out and having a few drinks, I get that, it’s just not my thing. And I know there’s other people out there who don’t enjoy going out to the pubs and clubs and drinking, so what about us?
Well, never mind, I thought, the Students Union has activities planned as well, these are just promoters trying to get customers to their bars, there will be plenty for me to do over freshers’. Wrong again! What did the Student Union have organised? A pub crawl! Aw well, that’s just one event, I thought, there will be others. And of course there was. What about the Freshers Ball? I was very excited for this and couldn’t wait to go, but what did it turn out to be? A glorified drinking session!
I have to admit, by this point I was losing hope, but then it was time to join clubs and societies. I immediately signed up to the history society, as I’m a history student, and awaited the first email with information of the first meeting. And what did the first meeting entail? A trip to the Speakeasy Bar! Aw well, maybe they will organise some good events. And what was the first event? I bet you’ve guessed it, a pub crawl!
So, it seems to me, the only thing that people seem to think us University students enjoy is alcohol. Well I know in many cases this may be true, in fact it’s definitely true. But what about those who don’t drink? So we may be a small minority, but we still like to have fun. And they wonder why so many Students spend more time drinking than they do in the library. It’s all that’s offered to them! It’s always there, so they aren’t going to say no! But us non drinkers have very few activities planned for us.
There seems to be no activity you can get involved in that doesn’t involve alcohol. And I don’t know about anyone else, but in my own opinion, I’m sick of having alcohol forced down my throat, figuratively speaking of course. I know this view probably won’t be shared by many others, but if the universities want the reckless behaviour of students to persist, then they should carry on the way they are going – with drink being promoted everywhere.
Originally posted Aug 30th 2014