Frosh week is an exciting time in a new university student's life. It's a time when he or she has the chance to make new friends, get acquainted with the school, and more often than not, consume wanton amounts of alcohol.
Binge drinking on campus is not exactly a new problem — despite the ever-increasing pile of studies that testify to its destructive consequences.
And it's not just the blackouts or alcohol poisoning that has campus brass concerned either. Violence, vandalism, even the occasional alcohol-related death, tend to plague schools across the country come September.
Much to the chagrin of undergrads, a number of post-secondary institutions have rolled out strict new policies to deter the messy results of over— (and sometimes underage) drinking.
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Leading the pack is Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., a school that received unwanted publicity last year when a student died after a night that included excessive alcohol consumption.
As the Globe and Mail reports, the university has preempted the charge by sending out letters that encourage parents to talk to their children about "safe drinking" habits before they send them off to school.
Acadia's residence advisers will also be allowed to enter student dorm rooms to check for booze during their "welcome week," while certain public areas will be cordoned off specifically for students of legal drinking age to partake in a little liquid revelry.
Their position is buoyed by a series of less-than-pleasant statistics.
In a 2004 survey of 6,000 university students conducted by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 47 per cent of Nova Scotia's future scholars admitted to indulging in what the poll classified as "harmful/hazardous drinking."
Compare that to a national average of 32 per cent, and Nova Scotia's students are either drinking far more than their peers — or simply being more honest about their hobbies.
So far, the strict procedures have met no resistance from the students' union.
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Over in Alberta, however, officials are having a tougher time meting out their new rules.
In a province where the legal drinking age starts at 18, that equals thousands upon thousands of additional potential drinking hazards.
So far, the University of Alberta has set a new standard preventing students from drinking in public areas of residences.
While considerably less strict than their Maritime equivalents, the measures have frustrated members of the school's student union, who argue that students will only seek out other places to drink.
"Who knows if they're going to make it home safe? Students could go out, over-consume at the bar and come back to residence and be in danger," Colten Yamagishi, president of the University of Alberta Students' Union, told the Globe, adding that students who drink in their rooms are also away from the watchful eyes of campus security and residence staff.
Alcohol bans don't seem to be the answer either, as a number of schools that tried to make their campuses dry found their efforts thoroughly thwarted by resourceful drinkers.
In absence of a definitive answer, universities will simply have to keep trying different tactics.
In the meantime, this year's crop of first-years will doubtlessly follow in the long-standing tradition of their intoxicated predecessors.