Salsa lessons and rave badminton? No thanks, I’d rather spend freshers getting drunk

Non-alcoholic freshers’ events will never be more popular than bar crawls

The Guardian has been duped into believing freshers have forgotten how to party. Readers were recently told how freshers no longer want to go clubbing, but instead go on “night bus tours, theatre trips and salsa classes.”

“Salsa classes, quiz nights and raveminton – where students play badminton under UV lights with glow sticks attached to their rackets to the sound of rave music – are some of the events on offer to first-year Loughborough students who would rather not spend the next day nursing a hangover.”

To back up the idea these events are on the rise and over-taking the more traditional fresher piss-ups, the paper spoke to a number of student union androids who told them freshers can no longer afford to go “out out” and are worried about the health effects of excessive boozing.

Loughborough Student Union President, Jess Excell said: “There’s been a shift in attitudes – students are focused on their studies and investing in their education; perhaps it’s down to the rise in fees.

“People are also more conscious about spending lots of money, because everything is so much more expensive these days.”

Don’t panic, the freshers bar crawls will never die

The article was given some vague statistical backing by an Office for National Statistics Report claiming “between 2005 and 2013…the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds who drank frequently has fallen by more than two-thirds”, but given these statistics were for the entire of the UK, and that only 32 per cent of 18-24 year olds are in full time education, they’re barely relevant to uni life.

The idea freshers are turning their backs on bar crawls and booze isn’t new: the same point was raised as many as two years ago by ex-Bristol Student Union President Rob Griffiths in the Telegraph, and quickly batted down by Tab man Will Lloyd.

Yes, Students Unions are putting on sober events, but only because they’re under immense pressure to curb excessive drinking. These events are often incredibly poorly attended. Last year in Durham, an awkward Speed Dating event was cancelled because no one turned up, and a mural painting session had only three attendees.

You’d find this classic even if you weren’t drunk

Freshers have come to university wanting to enjoy themselves, and the way they choose to do this is in a club, shaking it off to Tay-Tay, and (if they want) pouring watered-down vodka down their throats. It’s naive and patronising to assume clubbing cannot be disassociated from drinking, or that university students are so mindless they can’t enjoy clubbing without booze.

From my personal experience, my best nights out in Durham have been sober, and I have a number of friends who never drink, but have never felt the need to play raveminton, or play chess while listening to Banjax. The best solution is not to have a completely different event for people who don’t want to drink as it further distances teetotal students from the majority, and categorises them into boozers and non-boozers.

By all means, encourage a culture where no one is forced to drink, but don’t forget freshers will party because that’s what they want to do.