University campaigns for students to 'say no'

By Vaughan Elder

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A University of Otago student who came close to death after swallowing his own vomit during a drinking game is among examples being used to put students off such practices.

The examples have been used as part of an Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) campaign, backed by Otago University, called "It's your call".

The campaign highlights the risks of drinking games, initiations involving alcohol and "red cards" - where one member of the flat can dictate what activity the group undertakes.

It also lets students know that organising events or ceremonies requiring the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs is forbidden in the university's code of conduct.

Among the examples university proctor Simon Thompson used on the campaign's website to highlight the risks of such behaviour was a student who came close to death after agreeing to a "red card", which involved him being locked in a cupboard - called a "lock in" - until he consumed a large amount of alcohol.

The man choked on his vomit and with no one around to save him, he came close to death, Mr Thompson said.

Another student, who had a heart problem his friends did not know about, came close to death after taking part in a flat initiation.

"He was told to attend an initiation at his would-be flat, where the current flatties would make him do 'necessary' tasks before he could be allowed to rent the flat. He was given a bong to smoke, a bottle of red wine and a large amount of beer. He lost consciousness, fell to the floor and began to froth at the mouth," Mr Thompson said.

The student had a "long stay" in hospital and missed lectures for a month.

OUSA president Francisco Hernandez said a big part of the campaign was about empowering students to "say no" if they did not want to take part in drinking games or continue drinking.

"It's about respecting your mates and yourself. Not everyone feels they can say no to some of the extreme stuff that goes on," Mr Hernandez said.

It was also about encouraging students to learn their limits.

"As always we're down for a good time. Just don't take it too far. You don't want to end up hurting yourself or someone else or risking your place at university."

- Otago Daily Times

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