A United States researcher who studies drinking culture
at universities says the University of Otago is on the right
track when it comes to tackling problem drinking among its
Dr Robert Saltz, a senior researcher at the Prevention
Research Centre in Berkeley, California, is a member of Otago
University's alcohol implementation group, which is tackling
problem drinking and has been in Dunedin over the past two
Dr Saltz said the university had taken positive steps when it
came to targeting initiation rites and hazing behaviours,
which had been singled out in a pamphlet given to students
explaining the code of conduct.
''The students are now especially made aware of that type of
coercive behaviour and the dangers associated with it,'' Dr
Saltz, who has been studying alcohol-related harm at
universities since the 1980s, said.
The important thing now was to make sure students heeded this
''The question now is whether the students see this as a
policy that exists in written form only, or will there be
cases which make students convinced this is a major concern
for the university,'' he said.
This would require giving punishments to those involved in
the worst cases and making sure students found out about
He was also impressed with the way the Hyde St keg party was
handled and the overall path the university was taking on
''It seems to me that they are finding that right middle
tone, between not wanting to appear to be the police for all
the students, but to be genuinely concerned for their
safety,'' he said.
Parliament's recent decision not to raise the drinking age
did make life tougher for the university, as it was unable to
use methods to control drinking which had proved successful
in the United States, where the drinking age was set at 21.
That gave colleges in America more opportunities to break up
Despite the difference in drinking age, many of the same
problems found in New Zealand universities could be found in
the United States, particularly in sororities.
Other ways Otago University could try to get the message
across to students included getting landlords and the
hospitality industry on board with the code of conduct.