alcohol consumption
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Universities UK warns against alcohol consumption at university initiations

Universities UK (UUK), in collaboration with Newcastle University, has launched a briefing on initiations to raise awareness of their potential dangers and of excessive alcohol consumption among students.

UUK aims for students to be educated on the dangers of drinking large amounts of alcohol after the death of Ed Farmer, a Newcastle student, in 2016 after a society initiation event.

Thousands of students will have already started university this October and UUK hopes to raise awareness of “the risks of consuming large quantities of alcohol over a short period of time”.

Professor Chris Day, vice-chancellor of Newcastle and a UUK board member, said: “Three years ago we lost a bright, talented, much-loved student in one of the worst ways possible.

“We all wish we could rewind three years and change what happened that night. But we can’t go back and so instead we are looking forward and doing everything we can to minimise the chances of anything like this happening again.”

We all wish we could rewind three years and change what happened that night…But we can’t go back and so instead we are looking forward and doing everything we can to minimise the chances of anything like this happening again

– Chris Day

The recommendations from UUK include raising “awareness of initiations and their risks among students and staff” and “noting that a ‘zero tolerance approach’ is unhelpful” as initiations are still likely to take place.

Professor Day added: “Thankfully, initiations which result in serious harm or death are rare, but the impact of these incidents are significant and far-reaching across the university community.

“Universities are well placed to drive a change in attitudes toward excessive alcohol consumption and to contribute to overall culture change around harassment, coercion and bullying.

“I hope that all higher education leaders make a commitment to improving their institutions’ policies and processes and to providing a wide-range of initiatives in order to promote long-term culture change with regards to this issue.”

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