For many Witsies, the prospect of a cold one on a Friday night is what gets them through a long week. However, if a proposal to raise the legal alcohol drinking age to 21 is passed, this might change for some.
A summit on eradicating alcohol and drug abuse was held in Durban from March 15 to 17. Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said society’s wellbeing was government’s priority.
Vuvuzela investigated the effects the new legal age – if passed – would have on students, the social environment and various Wits’ clubs and societies.
Brendan von Essen, Wits Sports Council (WSC) chairperson said they have not formally addressed the matter as it has not yet become legislation but believes raising the legal drinking age will negatively affect Wits’ clubs and student campus life.
“Several of our events do involve the sale of alcohol. If the age is raised to 21, the WSC, fully cognisant of our legal duties, will be forced to re-evaluate the manner in which these events are held which could be detrimental to our clubs fundraising efforts,” he said.
Von Essen also felt it could create a division between younger and older students which would “hinder cross-year friendships that are a hallmark of university life”.
President of Wits clubs and societies Kentse Radebe said: “Clubs and societies would have to come up with new ideas about how to attract the student populace to their events and raise funds for themselves while ensuring that they cater to the needs of both those who are over 21 years of age and below.”
Wits Silly Buggers would still exist as they have a lot of deals with outside clubs but the new legislation might increase underage and binge drinking felt the club’s co-chairperson Andy Nell. “Underage drinking is less responsible,” he said.
First year BSc students Cayla Campbell (18) and Rory Murtagh (21) said the possible change of law was “not fair” and believed it would affect student social life and “increase false ID usage and underage drinking”.
A few Witsies like Dyllan Geldenhuis (18), a 1st year health sciences student, said they would reconsider joining clubs like Wits Silly Buggers and it would limit places they could go out to.