Students leading the way to reduce alcohol harm across Atlantic Canadian campuses

- December 9, 2019

Participants at the Postsecondary Education Partnership - Alcohol Harms symposium. (Provided photo)
Participants at the Postsecondary Education Partnership - Alcohol Harms symposium. (Provided photo)

This fall, student leaders from across Atlantic Canada including Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s University, Mount Allison University and Acadia University, gathered at Dalhousie for the PEP-AH Atlantic Regional Symposium.

The Postsecondary Education Partnership — Alcohol Harms (PEP-AH) is a group of universities and colleges from across Canada, partnered with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) and Universities Canada, aimed at reducing harms related to alcohol by supporting nation-wide campus efforts.

Dalhousie’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, modeled after the PEP-AH framework, aims to create environments where Dalhousie students can live up to their fullest academic, personal and social potential — free from harms caused by alcohol or substances.

A student-led symposium

Students from across Canadian colleges and universities are taking steps to collectively address the shared concern of reducing alcohol-related harms on campus. The annual PEP-AH Symposium provides students a space to participate in a regional discussion with their peers from other institutions.

The day at Dalhousie included a jam-packed agenda filled with sharing of ideas and lessons learned, and networking with peers. Student representatives left the symposium with new goals and action plans aimed at reducing harms from alcohol on their campuses.  

“Attending the PEP-AH symposium left me feeling inspired and motivated,” said Faiza Nauman, Dalhousie student and Dal After Dark representative. “It was a chance to engage with students from across different university campuses, exchange ideas and learn from each other. It left me feeling inspired and reminded me why the work of harm reduction is so important and how, as students, we can ensure that we bring the messaging and best practices to reduce these harms for all students on our campus."

Ongoing work and programming

Alcohol harm reduction has long been a priority of Dalhousie. With the support of student leaders and volunteers, the university endeavours to equip students with information and resources on how to safely consume alcohol, and to provide alternative programming for students who wish to socialize in a setting that is alcohol-free.

Dalhousie has partnered with Keep it Social, a student-led resource promoting responsible alcohol and cannabis consumption, personal choice and a culture of moderation. Keep it Social ambassadors empower students to reduce their risks and respect their limits. Keep it Social booths are often set up inside residences offering water and snacks during high-risk times, such as Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.

Dal After Dark is a program facilitated by Dal's Student Life and Student Health & Wellness departments to provide Dalhousie and King's students with an opportunity to host fun and interactive events open to all. Silent discos, movies nights and archery tag are just a few examples of the great events offered through this program. Upcoming events can be found on their Facebook page. Students can also apply for grant funding to host their own alternative programming event.

In addition, Dalhousie is also participating in the Canadian Postsecondary Education Alcohol and Drug Use Survey (CPADS). The CPADS is a partnership between Health Canada and PEP-AH, and aims to measure alcohol and drug use among college and university students. The findings from this research will be used to develop more programs aimed at meeting students’ needs. The survey was sent to more than 3000 Dalhousie students earlier this month.


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