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Monday, October 04, 2004

Miserable happy hours come to Steel City

Good to see student activists at my alma mater spending their time wisely. ‘Sheffield students launch drinking crackdown’ says the Hallam University website. ‘The month-long Think Safe Drink Safe campaign, organised by Sheffield Hallam University’s Students Union, has won the backing of South Yorkshire Police and sensible drinking promoters The Portman Group, who are helping to fund it. As well as binge drinking, the scheme aims to tackle a range of alcohol-related problems, raising awareness of the dangers of drink spiking, the consequences of drink driving and risks to personal safety through drunkeness. As part of the drive, students will take part in mock scenarios staged by police officers and the University drama society.’

Back in the day, we would try to pass motions to keep the police off campus. One of the key sources of cheap drink in Sheffield, the student union, is now biting the hand that feeds it. All aboard the anti-‘Britain’s binge-drinking culture’ bandwagon!

Of course, the writing was on the wall when ‘Pyjama Jump’ – a winter drinking binge for charity in jim-jams and frilly underwear – was abolished on public safety grounds a few years ago. Why the students union feels the need to play an in loco parentis role with its new recruits is a mystery to me, explicable only in terms of our safety-obsessed society. As a Sheffield (postgraduate) student I did my bit for binge drinking in the steel city, and as a nightclub bouncer I helped sort out the mess. In those days, we were free to make our own decisions, even the wrong ones. Now older and wiser, I think it would be a good use of the university’s facilities to teach some subjects in the mornings, rather than getting involved in these authoritarian campaigns.

PS. It is a also disgrace that the SHU news page is given over to this garbage, without a mention of the late Tessa Perkins, whose contribution to media studies teaching at the place was enormous and who sadly died last week. UPDATE: An obituary by a SHU colleague appears here.


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