In an attempt to combat alcohol abuse and gender-based violence (GBV) among students, Stellenbosch University has temporarily banned alcohol in its residences.

As of January 1, 2020 the ban was officially instated, and the university recently addressed students saying that the decision was reached following rising concerns from a number of pupils and two incidents that took place in the past year at the university.

The first of these incidents involved a student who was put in critical condition after he choked in his sleep. He was later taken off life support and passed away.

The university stressed that the details surrounding his death are still unclear, but rumors have been circulating that he had consumed a large amount of alcohol possibly in a drinking game as part of the residence tradition.

Secondly, the higher education establishment is using the ban to address concerns regarding gender-based violence which is not only a problem in South Africa and Cape Town but also worldwide.

During a meeting held by the university council it was raised that alcohol abuse is a huge concern and this is when the ban was considered and implemented.

“We have to now step up and take ownership of how we are going to combat the difficulties that make our living and learning communities unsafe and unwelcoming spaces for many of our students and newcomers. We are jointly setting up working groups to tackle various aspects of the problem of gender-based violence,” the university told News24.

Along with the ban the university has also been conversing with students who are mobilizing against gender-based violence with a memorandum being drawn up by the university’s own Anti-GBV Movement.

While residence rules are being reviewed, the alcohol ban will remain in place until further notice, no alcohol will be allowed to be consumed or stored on the student accommodation grounds.

“These rules stay in place until new residence rules that have the positive impact of changing the binge-drinking culture to a culture where drinking limits consumers’ blood alcohol content to 0.08%, are agreed upon,” the university said.

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