McGill, News

EUS Motion to Limit Subsidies for Drinking Events

On Nov. 22, the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) Council will vote on a motion to reduce the use of EUS student fees for subsidizing alcoholic drinks at faculty events. Council introduced the motion at their Oct. 25 meeting, when students were invited to give feedback before it goes to a vote.

The policy would limit EUS subsidies for events that serve alcohol, such as wine and cheese events. Further, it prohibits subsidies for one-day events that budget for over three drinks per person and any drinking event that does not provide a non-alcoholic option other than water. The policy aims to address the exclusivity of drinking culture at EUS events, and the unfairness of non-drinking students’ fees subsidizing drinking-focused events.

The policy does not affect events that make a profit for the EUS—such as Open Air Pub (OAP) and Blues Pub—events that are revenue-neutral, or events that take loans from EUS to buy alcohol. The policy will only affect events that the EUS subsidizes without receiving equal profit in return, such as the McGill Engineers Run The World (MERTW) pub crawl.

The motion was largely drafted by Morgan Grobin, U3 Engineering.

“The policy in its current form does a fairly good job of addressing the unfairness, which was my personal goal, but not a great job of addressing the culture,” Grobin said. “The catch-22 here is that there is no way to address the culture without addressing the finances, but we can't pass a motion addressing the finances because we still have a toxic culture.”

Though she was one behind the motion’s development, Grobin feels that it is difficult to change drinking culture with policy alone.

“The people who don't want this motion also don't want a culture change,” Grobin said. “They like those events because they are binge drinking events. I see the motion I wrote to be the best way for [binge-drinkers] to protect their society-organized binge drinking while still giving the EUS an out to say ‘Yes, we organize these events, but your student money is not subsidizing them.’”

Grobin estimates that the financial impact of the motion will be minor since events can make up for lost subsidies by increasing ticket prices.

“Realistically, if this motion were to pass, the only effect would be that ticket prices for MERTW and MERTWinter would go up by $10 per person,” Grobin said. “The motion's goal is for us to take a more responsible look at how we are spending the student fees we collect with regards to binge drinking.”

Having previously worked with Grobin on the original policy as part of a large effort to combat drinking culture, Councillor Vivian Campbell presented notice of the motion to the EUS.

“Tackling drinking culture is important for the EUS because we value inclusivity,” Campbell said. “We are looking at adding clauses to require options for people to attend drinking events without drinking alcohol.”

Campbell believes it is impossible to make events that involve large amounts of drinking inclusive for all students.

“I would prefer to discuss how we can make the overall social culture more inclusive, by expanding to include large recurrent events that do not centre around drinking,” Campbell said.

Head OAP Manager Malcolm McClintock is working to reassure students that the policy will not target OAP. He interprets the policy as a move toward addressing the accessibility of drinking events rather than condemning drinking itself.

“I encourage the people who think this is ‘taking away their beer’ to consider the culture surrounding drinking events and whether or not it is inclusive,” McClintock said. “The sentiment of the policy is to make sure student fees are not going towards binge drinking events which only a non-representative number of students attend.”

The next EUS council meeting is on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. in the EUS Common Room. The motion will be put forth at this meeting.

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