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Discussing drinking culture at Queen’s

Talking about the drinking culture on university campuses can help foster change, and the #RethinkTheDrink Talkback Tour is helping to support these conversations.

Queen’s was the first stop on a national tour, that is giving students the opportunity to discuss alcohol consumption and misuse, with Queen’s alumna and best-selling author Ann Dowsett Johnston (Artsci’75), and Catherine Paradis, senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse (CCSA).

"Catherine Paradis speaks at Rethink the Drink"
Catherine Paradis speaks to Queen's students at the #RethinkTheDrink Talkback Tour, while Ann Dowsett Johnston looks on. (Supplied photo) 

Ms. Johnson and Dr. Paradis were joined by Hannah Billinger (Artsci’18) and Alex Hillyer (Artsci’18), co-chairs of Queen’s For The Boys, a campus group that focus on education surrounding unhealthy substance use that includes elements of toxic masculinity and mental health. Rector Cam Yung moderated the panel, which aims to increase awareness of campus party culture, alcohol marketing, alcohol in pop culture and alcohol harm reduction.

Developed in partnership with the AMS Social Issues Commission and Student Wellness Services, the panel brought out students from all over campus to discuss the drinking culture on campuses, including Queen’s. The discussion included attitudes towards drinking, the dangers of binge-drinking, and ways to drink responsibly and within ones’ limits.

“In your first year, you’re thrown into a big drinking culture where you feel the need to keep up with everyone else to fit in,” says Billinger and Hillyer. “There is a process of learning to casually drink as you go through each year. The learning curve helps students realize how to enjoy casual drinking without the need to binge.”

Seventy-nine per cent of Queen’s respondents to the 2016 National College Health Assessment survey of student health and wellness reported having drunk alcohol within the previous 30 days. The panel stressed the importance of being able to enjoy yourself without crossing the line, and understanding others’ reasons for choosing to abstain.

“I think respect is something we generally forget,” said Ramna Safeer, AMS Social Issues Commissioner. “When a friend tells us they do not want to drink, we should accept their decision and not push the issue further.”

#RethinkTheDrink is an initiative of the CCSA and the Post-Secondary Education Partnership – Alcohol Harms (PEP-AH), of which Queen’s is a member. PEP-AH is a national network of institutions, Universities Canada and the CCSA. Members collaborate to share strategies and best practices specific to alcohol issues on campuses, and work with an evidence-based strategic framework for action to support campus teams that aim to reduce harms related to alcohol consumption on campus. At Queen’s the PEP-AH campus team is the Alcohol Working Group.

To learn more, go to http://pepah.ca.