Fry quip stokes a drugs fire

October 24, 1997

DUNDEE University was quick to play down reports this week of a row over alleged pro-drugs remarks made by its student-elected rector, the writer and actor Stephen Fry.

There was press speculation that Mr Fry could be forced to quit after admitting to Neon movie magazine that he had experimented with ecstasy.

His remarks came as student leaders began campaigns to raise drugs awareness around freshers' week. Mr Fry told Neon that ecstasy had an impressive effect, adding: "One should try everything once, except incest and country dancing."

But a joint statement from the university and its student association said that there were no calls within the university for his resignation.

"As a university, we take a strong anti-drugs line. We do not believe Stephen Fry is advocating drug taking and we expect he will be making this clear to the press," the statement said.

"Student rectors are often rather exotic creatures who briefly take up residence in the worthy but sometimes grey academic environment. They might be expected to express their own colourful and individualistic views on the world. The university and the student body take a tolerant view of such expressions without necessarily sharing them."

Mr Fry has been a very popular and able student rector. He was persuaded to stand unopposed for a second three-year term of office which expires in January.

In London, 26 boroughs will next month join health authorities, police and housing officers in the Drugs Action Task Force in a campaign to make students better informed about drugs.

They are producing posters and leaflets to be distributed through all universities in the capital.

A spokesman for the campaign said: "We are giving people information to make their own decisions about what they want to do about drugs."

This is a sentiment echoed by the National Union of Students, which has run a similar information campaign over the past year.

An NUS spokesman said: "It is a fact of life that people get approached about drugs and we want them to be aware of all the facts. Stephen Fry is one of many celebrities who have talked about them. In the end, students will have to make up their own minds."

Perspective, page 28

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