The National Union of Students (NUS) has passed a policy which supports setting up a minimum price for drink prices.
On the final day of the Union’s annual conference in Blackpool (held between 31 March and 2 April) members backed proposals for a recommended minimum price. It will formally consult with students across the country before setting the limit.
Wes Streeting, NUS president, said, “students’ unions work hard to inform their members of the dangers of excessive drinking. But more can be done. ‘All you can drink’ and ‘three for the price of one’ offers encourage students to drink to dangerous levels, and should have no place in our students’ union bars.”
He said the NUS would work with its commercial arm – NUS Services – to recommend a minimum price on alcohol.
Although it would not be legally binding, it is hoped most bars would follow the recommendation.
Tom Wales, a Warwick delegate to the NUS conference who voted against this proposal, claims that “although it was a while ago I am still almost certain that all other Warwick delegates voted for this entirely arbitrary policy.” None of the other delegates the Boar spoke to could either confirm or deny it.
Wales added that he voted against the policy because he “felt it was unfair during a recession to contribute further to student debt. The Union could certainly do more to promote responsible drinking by slashing the cost of non-alcoholic drinks rather than penalising those that choose to enjoy alcoholic beverages on occasion.”
Andy Glyde, Governance and Finance officer, who voted in favour of the motion at the NUS conference, said that the policy was about the practice of some students’ unions that sell alcohol at a loss price. He added that this was not the case at Warwick.
He responded to Wales by saying, “Minimum pricing is something that has been debated firstly in Scotland and now in Westminster. The motion was not forcing unions to set minimum prices as NUS has no authority to do so. Rather, it was about starting a debate within students’ unions on the issue of minimum pricing.
“Given that this could become a hot topic in the future, it is fundamental that the debate be had within unions. There are arguments on both sides and it is important that there is proper debate on this.”
Steph Jones, Welfare Officer for the Union, stated that the “SU understands that students are adults and do not need to be lectured to about alcohol. Our approach is to make sure that everyone is aware of the facts and dangers of alcohol, and allow them to make their own decisions.”
She added that the SU “provides the safest environment in which to drink,” and that when dealing with students who have drunk too much “stewards will look after them and make sure that they can get home safely.”
She contrasted that with the approach of other nightclubs who “simply throw someone who is drunk out on the street.”
This term also marks the SU’s launch of a responsible drinking campaign entitled “What if?” in collaboration with the University.
Jones said that it “aims to get students thinking about their own drinking habits and make sure they are aware of what to do if they find one of their friends worse for wear.
“We hope that the messages get through to students so they can continue to go out and enjoy themselves without being put at risk.”