• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Alcohol should not be the main event of Freshers’ Week

ByOwen Longstreth

Sep 28, 2023

Freshers’ week 2023 has come and gone, and with it the many events hosted by societies. Now, as I sit in my classes this week I am reminded of one of the most important features of freshers’ week: the freshers’ flu. Every lecture is accompanied by a chorus of sniffles and coughs. The pharmacy on Bristo Square has the cold medicine displayed front and centre. And many people – myself included – are starting the year slightly off-kilter.

I’ve been down this road before. During last year’s freshers’ I tested positive for COVID-19 on the Saturday before term was due to start. I spent the first week of my time at University in my room devouring paracetamol and waiting to get better. This year I got somewhat more lucky and only caught a minor cold, although this still proved to be a bit of a headache. 

Having this happen both times has made me think about the way fresher’s is done and whether this needs to change. At least in my experience, freshers’ week tends to feature heavy drinking. I am not opposed to this on principal, but I have found that it ends up being a lot, and I would argue contributes to how ill people become the week after.

And after giving it some thought I wanted to present two key takeaways about how this can change, based mostly around societies.

I felt the best events this year took place during the day. I felt I was able to meet many people at the societies I was interested in at a level that worked for me. I had the option to stop by and get some of the details from the committee, or to stay, socialise, and maybe have a bite to eat. 

It’s also good since neither of the daytime events I went to involved alcohol. This university has a diverse student body and it is definitely good to have events without alcohol to include people who do not drink. 

The other takeaway I have is a bit more nuanced: don’t make drinking the main event. I’m a returning member of the Board Game Society and this is definitely where this was made clear for me. We were originally going to have a pub night at The Southsider, but because the place was full, we moved to the common rooms in someone’s student accommodation. There was booze, but we were also playing games the whole time so I definitely had less than I would have if it was solely a pub night.

Overall, it all comes down to creating choices. Give people the option to stay out late drinking while having alternatives because everybody is different. Hopefully, then everyone has a good time and starts term off on the right foot.

Clubbing 2” by Yoshimai is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.