For decades Canadian Universities have kicked off each new school year with Frosh Week – an initiation for new students involving parties, drinking games, and binge drinking for weeks on end. With binge drinking reaching dangerous new levels for young people, Universities and Colleges across the country are now focusing on a less ‘party focused’ introduction to school. Enter Welcome Week – where students are invited to have good, clean fun instead of underage drinking or binge drinking.
Why go dry? Since eliminating Grade 13 in Ontario, many students entering university are 17 or 18 years old. That means underage drinking is a huge problem at secondary school, and kicking off a new year with an alcohol-infused party doesn’t set the right tone. Binge drinking during the first week of school is nothing new either. One student died at Acadia University in 2011 after he binge drank in his dorm room during Frosh Week, resulting in Acadia changing their alcohol policy to include banning kegs and any drugs from dorm rooms, banning drinking games, and banning the stockpiling of alcohol on campus.
The decision for Canadian universities and colleges to change the tone of Frosh Week and go dry isn’t a new one, but it’s definitely controversial. Bigger universities like Carleton have restricted alcohol from their introduction or welcome weeks since 2005, and new entrants to the school are expected to sign a charter of responsibilities saying they’ll abstain from drinking for 7 days during their Welcome Week.
Instead of big parties, Welcome Week activities at universities and colleges across the country include concerts, game nights, and even a karaoke sing-off.
Although changing the name of Frosh Week isn’t going to eliminate underage drinking completely, it might change the focus enough that new students see skipping alcohol and enjoying school sober as the better option.