In a move that has sparked nationwide media coverage, UCC Health Matters and UCC Campus Accommodation are to offer alcohol-free apartments to students under a pilot scheme.
Students attending UCC in the new academic year 2013/14 will have the opportunity to choose alcohol-free accommodation for the first time. The move was widely reported across print, broadcast and online media outlets - a round-up of the news stories, bulletins, radio and TV interviews, Tweets and Facebook posts can be found here: http://storify.com/UCC_Ireland/reaction-alcohol-free-accommodation-at-ucc
While subject to demand, good uptake is expected and spaces will be limited and located at Victoria Lodge, which is owned and managed by UCC Campus Accommodation. Students will be asked to provide a written personal statement as to why the option interests them alongside their usual housing application, which will then be screened. The contract to adhere to the alcohol regulations will be included in the current contract that students now sign and the consequences of violations will be in line with the current disciplinary process.
The reason for providing students with another accommodation option to consider are multiple:
- Concerning levels of alcohol consumption were recorded among UCC students in a 2010 study by E. Cahill and M. Byrne, for example. This study showed that 45.5% (n=20) of males and 44.5% (n=61) of females reported binge drinking more than once a week and that all students who reported drinking alcohol reported at least one adverse consequence. The most common adverse consequences reported were; regretting something said or done, feeling adverse effects whilst at college, missing days from college, or harm to college studies or work. These findings contributed to the development of the UCC Alcohol Action Plan, which has been tackling the issue of alcohol use among students over the last number of years. The action plan has put in place a number of distinct strategy areas which include 20 specific action points to be undertaken to help reduce the alcohol related harm amongst students. Among the action points is the provision of alcohol-free housing with the aim to make the campus and the local environment safer from alcohol related harm. This mirrors the aims of the UCC Health Matters Initiative, which is working to promote the health and wellbeing of students and staff through the creation of health promoting and sustainable environments.
- Beyond encouraging the responsible use of alcohol, it is also vital to recognise that the student population boasts huge diversity, with students travelling from all over the world to attend UCC. It is important that the services and activities offered to students also reflect this diversity. Cultural differences and religious and personal preferences are therefore a strong consideration in this pilot scheme, as students may have different preferences when it comes to housing. Many students opt for same sex apartments, Irish language speaking only apartments or mature student housing for instance. This new alcohol-free option will cater to students who may choose to live a lifestyle that does not involve the consumption of alcohol. The reasons why students may choose this option are varied and yet often quite simple - students may simply just prefer the quieter surroundings that an alcohol-free area may bring.
Deirdre Griffin, Health Promotion Project Worker at UCC comments: “I am excited to welcome this development and feel that many students will really value having this option. UCC Health Matters is about enabling the students and staff of UCC to take control over and improve their wellbeing. It is about creating the environments that will help people to live happy and healthy lives and achieve their full potential. This initiative supports that ethos and I feel it will be welcomed by many students”.
Students can apply to be considered under the scheme by contacting the UCC Campus Accommodation via email:email@example.com, (0)21 4941200 or (0)21 4818452