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March 23, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Vic Venues Booze Bamboozlement Baffles

An alcohol policy that prioritises “profit-making over the importance of promoting collegiality and a community feeling on campus” was the impetus for a petition penned by Victoria University of Wellington’s Law Students’ Society, following a dry “Welcome Back to Law School” barbeque at Pipitea campus.

The petition put forth by the VUWLSS demands that a “thorough review” of Victoria’s alcohol policy “be undertaken by an unbiased panel that includes student and faculty representatives.”

The annual meet and greet for law students was an uncharacteristically sober affair following the VUWLSS’ decision not to accept the price put forward by Vic Venues to supply the event with alcohol.

The policy that oversees alcohol consumption on campus prohibits any purveyor besides Vic Venues from supplying an on-campus event with booze.

The price Vic Venues offered to the VUWLSS was “four times” the amount quoted by a sponsor. Prices were estimated to be around $4for a can of Tui.

VUWLSS President Amelia Keene said the Law Students’ Society took umbrage not only with the mooted prices, but with monopolistic standing Vic Venues held over alcohol catering at Victoria.

“We agree with the University that an alcohol policy that encourages responsible drinking is important. However we disagree that the University should be able to force monopoly prices onto student groups for events that we run for no profit,” Keene said.

“In the past, the VUWLSS barbecues have always been respectful and alcohol consumption has rarely been excessive.”

Student Union Complex Manager Rainsforth Dix insisted that alcohol prices put forth by Vic Venues alcohol were fair.

“Vic Venues passes on the best price possible to clients,” Dix said.

“Prices are negotiated between Vic Venues and the supplier on a regular basis.”

Under the university policy regarding the consumption of alcohol on campus, the answer to a commonly asked question, “Can my School or Business Unit provide our own alcohol?” the answer states, “Yes, Schools and Business Units can provide their own alcohol for each event as long as a Licensed Staff Person is responsible for the environment and supply of alcohol.”

Student Associations, however, are not afforded the same privilege.

VUWSA President Jasmine Freemantle sympathised with the VUWLSS, but appreciated that the rules governing alcohol were in place for a reason.

“If students are paying $4a can for something like Tui or a comparable drink, and that cost can’t be taken on by a club or a representative group, that that makes fundraising opportunities quite difficult,” Freemantle said.

“At the same time, I realise the university puts those kinds of procedures in place to guard the sale and consumption of alcohol.”

Keene explained that she found engaging with Vic Venues and Rainsforth Dix difficult, with Dix herself exhibiting a trying steadfastness on policy, despite seeking submissions for a review of Victoria’s alcohol policy.

“She told me over the phone that any submission that VUWLSS made on the issue of alcohol supply on this review will not change the outcome, as the scope of the review is narrow,” Keene said.

“It is worth noting that she is responsible for reviewing the policy, writing the policy, administering and enforcing the policy. There is a concerning lack of accountability here.”

Keene hoped that the petition, which she hopes to present to Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh upon completion, will provide greater freedom and install greater trust in students to organise themselves.

“The University is a great venue and it makes sense to utilise the facilities for events that are legitimately related to the University. The University’s alcohol policy puts VUWLSS in a position where we do not want to hold any events involving alcohol on campus,” she said.

“The monopoly prices that Vic Venues can impose on any student body that wishes to provide alcohol for legitimate student events on campus are an outrage and threaten the viability of any meaningful community at the University.”

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