Licensee accuses NUS of double standards over student pub crawl campaign

By James Wallin

- Last updated on GMT

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The NUS is trying to crack down on pub crawls
The NUS is trying to crack down on pub crawls
The licensee of a university bar has criticised the National Union of Students for launching a crackdown on students drinking in pubs while offering them a 10% discount on supermarket booze.

NUS Alcohol Impact is a pilot project at eight universities across the country in a bid to “tackle or redress student participation in commercial pub crawls”.

However, Dominic McGowan, who has been running the University of Chester’s Bar and Club Twenty10 since 2010, said this policy is at odds with the union’s supermarket booze offer with the NUS Extra cards.

McGowan, who previously ran the Library Bar in Lincoln, said at the same the NUS was launching its campaign he produced an in-house criteria and put together an alcohol working group – proving the trade does not need a stick to behave responsibly.

He said: “We are in a unique position in this sector. Our core, often exclusive, market is the 18-24 category. I have served many a new student their first pint in a pub, so we are in an excellent position to influence behaviour positively."

Positive partnership

He said universities could use their position as major economic players in their locality to bring some pressure on the off-trade to scale back on excessive discounting. He added:  “By working positively with local pubs and, in particular, nightclubs we could look at introducing maximum entry times to finally break the back of the extremes of pre-drinking, and drive our city centres towards voluntarily setting a minimum price for alcohol.”

He accused the NUS of issuing ‘confused messages’, saying: “Last academic year the NUS Extra card offered 10% off all goods at the Co-Op, including alcohol. Recently at a conference I was able to question the responsibility of this, but the head of the purchasing arm said he saw no issue with this, and confirmed that the NUS had agreed to continue with their offer because it was ‘what the students want’.

"If you ask a student what is the one thing they want they will always answer 'cheaper alcohol'. I know this because I have asked this through the years. It's time as an industry, and as educational institutions, and as representatives of our future, that we truly work together for the common good. We are blessed without having to worry too much about our bottom line and because of that we should act in a manner befitting the institutions we stand for and not scrabble around for a quick buck."

Culture shift

A spokeswoman for the NUS said: “NUS has never set out to ban alcohol from students’ lives. Instead, with our new alcohol impact scheme, we are trying to create a culture shift in the way that students consume alcohol. The co-op student discount is about offering students a discount across all of their shopping to make their food bills more manageable.

“The alcohol impact scheme will allow us to create a social norm of responsible consumption by students at the pilot institutions, changing attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol, leading to safer and more productive places to study and live.

“It’s an extremely positive project that has the welfare of students at its core, with a range of benefits from reducing crime and disorder, to improving student health and academic outcomes, and enhancing partnerships within local communities. It aims to encourage responsible retailing and the provision of a broader range of activities as well as effective support services on campus, and by doing so make universities more welcoming for those who do not drink.”

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