It's a student thing

November 16, 2007

Jackie Sherman is mistaken if she believes universities are in a position to "put their students' unions and halls of residence in order" (Letters, November 9). Students' unions are membership organisations, whose sole accountability is to their student membership.

Yes, there is more to be done to make students' unions more inclusive and representative of their increasingly diverse membership. But the fact is, drinking is a large part of the experience for many students, and unions provide a safe space for students to enjoy a drink. At Northumbria, students voted overwhelmingly at our AGM for a Happy Hour - not simply because they enjoy cheap drinks, but because our membership recognises the benefits of encouraging good value in a safe, secure environment. The introduction of Happy Hour coincided with a responsible drinking campaign. Pushing the boundaries, experimenting with alcohol and learning the limits of tolerance are part of growing up.

Students' unions offer a hell of a lot more besides. If Sherman's son can't find something to do in his union that doesn't involve drinking, that's not the fault of his union's successful commercial services.

Richard Buckley , Representation and democracy co-ordinator, Northumbria University Students' Union.

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