Why the new Fab initiative blows

Many of you are feeling pretty forsaken by your Guild officers, and with good reason


Last week students were shocked to learn of a new initiative which will see them breathalysed before entry into everyone’s favourite night, Fab N Fresh.

The initiative claims to look to “reduce alcohol related crime” and will run in other local haunts such as The Soak and Urban Village over the eight week trial period.

But is it a good idea?

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The #deepbreath scheme has already been trialled in Broad Street

The future of Fab?

The future of Fab?

Obviously, from a student perspective, the natural and immediate answer is “no”. Predrinking, or “preloading” as Selly Oak police have termed it, has become a ritual so ingrained into university culture that the idea of not entering a club in at least a semi-drunken haze is not one that most of us regularly entertain.

Despite this, after the age of 17, most of us have worked out it’s not fun to get so smashed that you can’t see, and in this way the scheme just comes across as extremely patronising.

And, as one student astutely pointed out, while the initiative may – operative word – may, reduce binge drinking to some extent, the unfortunate likelihood is that the amount of harder recreational drugs such as MDMA used will likely skyrocket.

But that’s not the only flaw to the West Midlands Police plan.

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Selly Oak police are completely behind the scheme

There’s still nothing being put in place to curb the amount of alcohol you ingest upon entry. What would make more sense is to breathalyse people on the way out – but this is unrealistic, and would involve a complicated and probably unethical system of detaining students until they’re deemed sober enough to leave.

It just seems to be a poorly thought out answer to a relevant issue.

Of course, the more cynical of us would say that the whole thing is just a money making scheme under a thinly-veiled front of interest in student safety. And we’d maybe be forgiven in thinking this.

The obvious advantages to the Guild (ker-ching) seem to vastly outweigh the advantages to students.

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Is this the end of predrinks as we know it?

After the eight week trial period, information collated will be turned into data to establish a level of intoxication which “the Guild believes students should avoid reaching” – i.e, if you’re over this level, you’re not getting in.

This is where the initiative seems confused.

By using a Blood Alcohol Calculator (BAC) system, one can only establish the amount of alcohol ingested, and not its effect. Environmental factors such as height and drinking history still have a massive effect on how pissed you get, and this varies wildly from person to person.

Yes, getting your intoxication level checked is not, in itself, a bad idea if the idea is to wise you up about how much you’re really drinking. But there in surely lies the problem – you’re already smashed.

You’re not going to care what level of intoxication you’ve reached when you can hear “Shake It Off” playing over the shoulder of the security guard taking your reading. If anything, the whole procedure will kill your buzz so much you’ll just end up heading straight to the bar anyway.

This guy needs to shake something off

This guy needs to shake something off

But perhaps the most critical and glaringly obvious flaw to all of this is the Guild’s primary concern of reducing alcohol-related crime. The fundamental issue with this is simple: students are not perpetrators of crime. They are the victims.

We can already say with absolute certainty that crime is not an issue in Fab, only after, when the hoard descends onto the streets of Selly.

To suggest that breathalysers will reduce crime after a night out is both naive and stupid. As was demonstrated in frightening fashion last year, students, both sober and intoxicated, were falling victim to gangs who in some incidents, were willing to resort to armed robbery.

Regardless of whether you are just tipsy or completely inebriated, when someone confronts you with a knife, or attempts to assault  you, you are therein thrown into an unavoidable situation. What the Guild and the West Midlands Police have clearly failed to grasp is that the central focus must be to protect students and prevent student-targetted crime, rather than placing the onus on those falling victim to it.

By all means try the breathalysers, but do not believe for one minute they resolve the real underlying issue.