Victoria University students have come out in force to challenge a proposed liquor ban.
The ban – put forward by Wellington City Council (WCC) – would see Kelburn park become a no liquor area. Kelburn park is a favourite watering hole for Vic uni students, who frequenty stop in the park to drink on their way to the bars in town.
The ban was proposed after the WCC was flooded with complaints about the state of Kelburn. Residents complained of late night yelling, students urinating on the footpath, vomit being found scattered throughout the park, bottles and cans being left on benches, and more.
But Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) president Tamatha Paul says the council is misguided if they believe the ban will end drinking in town. Instead, it will only push students towards drinking in places like the botanic gardens, “where we know [it] is much more dangerous”. “There’s no lighting there, very low visibility, from the outside you can’t see what’s going on,” she says. Moreover, she says the council’s assumption that all those drinking in the park are students is misguided: “let’s be clear – there are a lot of people that live in Kelburn that aren’t necessary enrolled in any tertiary institutions”.
Paul believes any attempt to ban students drinking in public is “wasting ratepayers money”. “We need to be working with the university, with the residents, and with halls of residence in particular, to make sure that we have solution that is good for everybody in the community”, Paul says. One way positive change could be made is by changing halls of residence kick-out times. At the moment, those drinking alcohol are expected to leave their halls at 10pm. Because the clubs don’t fill up until midnight, many students continue to drink on the streets until they feel ready to head in to town. Paul believes asking halls of residence to allow drinking until 12pm would mean fewer students drinking in parks like Kelburn.
At time of writing, around 400 Victoria University students have sent in petitions asking the council to drop its proposed ban.