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University drinking culture – it’s time for a change

Fresher’s Week is upon us once more. This can be an overwhelming time, especially when navigating the highly anticipated nightlife and drinking culture promised from a ‘typical’ university experience.

This article is certainly not the first of its kind – there have been quite a number written on this subject in The Mancunion and other student publications. But, despite the rare and under-advertised film nights organised for Fresher’s Week, I don’t feel enough progress has been made. Perhaps because of my own insecurities about how much or how little I drink, but I feel student life is still often hyped up as one of sex, drugs and techno.

There need to be more alcohol-free events on offer throughout the year, both by societies and the university. These cater to everyone – from teetotalers to those of us who can’t afford a hangover because of deadlines to people who just don’t want to drink that day – you don’t need to have a reason. And when I say alcohol-free, I mean it. Of course, you don’t have to get an alcoholic drink at a pub crawl, but being the sober friend gets boring and there are so many alternatives to going out.

The Mancunion asked students and recent graduates in Manchester what advice they would give on having fun at uni without the help of a drink.

On the topic of sober clubbing, Rosa, a recent Manchester graduate argues a fair point for reluctant clubbers: “try clubbing at least once, but go home as soon as you want to. It can actually be more fun than you think” even sober.

There is a pervasive stereotype in our society that being drunk is equatable to having fun, meaning those who stay sober are left to wonder if they are missing out on something. But Elizabeth, a second year, recommended to “have a positive outlook, don’t think ‘I’m not going to have as much fun as everyone else because I’m not drunk.’”

“There are loads of pub quizzes on in Manchester, [and you can] have a sociable time without the pressure of drinking loads,” which Sylvie, a third year, suggests.

And if you are someone who enjoys going out, be considerate of those who don’t and make an effort to occasionally stay in and do something else – I’m sure it’ll be appreciated, and you’ll have a great time too.

Megan suggests to “eat together, have brews and game nights” to get to know your flatmates, trust me if you can survive a game of Monopoly together you’ll be fine for the rest of the year.

Until the prospect of university drinking culture stops being intimidating and isolating for students, this narrative needs to be written and re-written. The default should not be that as a student you enjoy drinking, we’re not all the same and that needs to be taken into account.

I hope the term sober student can stop being a label, there’s should have to be different sub-categories based on your drinking preferences. You are a student whether or not you decide to go clubbing or watch a film on a Friday night.

Tags: Freshers' Week, Nightlife, sober student, university advice, university drinking culture

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