Colleges in Ireland must provide “drug, substance, alcohol and tobacco-free student accommodation” following new recommendations. The new “framework for tackling substance abuse” in higher education was recently sent to all the presidents of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Ireland.
Back in September 2019, Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor convened a “Rapid Response Group” which was tasked with conducting extensive research and providing recommendations on tackling substance abuse in higher education. The group, which was comprised of 21 academics, gardaí, health professionals, students and first responders, recently released their recommendations for all HEIs. There are no UCD staff on the Rapid Response Group team.
A further note within the recommendations for “drug, substance, alcohol and tobacco-free student accommodation” suggests that HEIs “could include developing a contract of occupancy for student tenants in institution-owned student accommodation.”
According to these recommendations, all HEIs must: allocate space on the HEI campus for support groups working with those struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, implement a Student Community Support system, provide interventions that target higher risk groups and complete a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of their own Drugs and Alcohol Action Plan at least once every three years, provide drug, substance, alcohol and tobacco-free student accommodation and on-campus alcohol-free social spaces.
In response to these new recommendations, a UCD Students’ Union spokesperson has said the SU “would welcome the introduction of alcohol-free housing. It would be safer and more welcoming to other cultures.” The spokesperson continued: “UCD has alcohol free spaces, and events. We have a part time role for non-alcoholic events and most of the SU events are daytime non-drinking ones. The university policy states that bars must serve non-alcoholic alternatives at a reasonable price during trading hours and that non-alcoholic alternatives should be available for non-drinkers at all events as well as food.”
The Tribune reached out to UCD, but have not received a comment by the time of publishing.
Conor Capplis – Editor