UCC students can now avail of alcohol-free accommodation

By Adam Klaus

Students attending UCC in the new academic year 2013/14 will have the
opportunity to avail of alcohol-free accommodation for the first time
as part of a pilot programme by the UCC Health Matters initiative and
UCC Campus Accommodation.

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: accommodation@ucc.ie, (0)21
4941200 or (0)21 4818452

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