Heavy drink­ing at Otago Uni falls

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - GE­ORGE BLOCK ge­[email protected]

SCARFIES are get­ting drunk less of­ten, but they are still drink­ing to in­tox­i­ca­tion more than stu­dents at other univer­si­ties, a new study sug­gests.

The study pin­pointed the Univer­sity of Otago’s crack­down on poor be­hav­iour as a pos­si­ble cause for the de­cline in heavy drink­ing.

Cover­ing a pe­riod when stu­dent haunts the ‘‘Gardies’’ and the Bowl­ing Green Tav­ern closed, the study also found stu­dents were less likely to drink in pubs than in pre­vi­ous years.

In 2005, 40% of re­spon­dents at Otago Univer­sity had drunk to in­tox­i­ca­tion in the pre­vi­ous seven days, com­pared with about 25% of stu­dents at Lin­coln, Vic­to­ria and Waikato, ac­cord­ing to sur­veys cited in the study.

By 2013, the pro­por­tion of Otago stu­dents who had got drunk in the past seven days had dropped to 25%, while the pro­por­tion of Lin­ coln, Vic­to­ria and Waikato univer­sity stu­dents drink­ing them­selves to in­tox­i­ca­tion in the pre­vi­ous week was down to just 19%.

How­ever, the preva­lence of drink­ing at Otago re­mained high. Ninety­five per­cent of Otago stu­dents had con­sumed al­co­hol in the past four weeks in 2005. That pro­por­tion was down just four points, to 91%, eight years later.

The study also found stu­dents were drink­ing at the pub much less than in pre­vi­ous years. In 2005, 74% of Otago stu­dents had drunk at a pub in the pre­vi­ous seven days, ver­sus just 52% in 2013.

Prof Kypros Kypri, of the univer­sity’s depart­ment of pre­ven­tive and so­cial medicine, said it showed the univer­sity’s in­volve­ment in ob­ject­ing to li­cence re­newals pos­si­bly cre­ated a tip­ping point for busi­nesses that had sur­vived by breach­ing server laws.

Yesterday, Prof Kypri re­jected the sug­ges­tion this en­cour­aged more dan­ger­ous drink­ing at pri­vate res­i­dences.

‘‘I don’t think li­censed premises are these care­fully man­aged places.

‘‘My ex­pe­ri­ence in Dunedin . . . was if things got re­ally out of hand, bounc­ers showed up, and it wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘I think the idea they’re some­how safer is re­ally more myth than ev­i­dence­based.’’

Prof Kypri said he was pleased the lev­els of heavy drink­ing had re­duced since he was a stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Otago some 20 years ago.

‘‘I’ve got a son who has just fin­ished his school­ing in New­cas­tle, where we live, and he’s go­ing to Otago in Fe­bru­ary.

‘‘And I have to say I’m glad it’s more mod­er­ate than it was.’’

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