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DEMONT: Dal security sees worrisome habits in student drinking

  • October 17, 2014 12:33 AM PDT

    I ran into an old friend on the street the other day. That, alas, was Mike Burns’ misfortune for I Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber bitched and moaned to Dalhousie University’s chief of security for a solid half-hour about a variety of subjects. Chief among them, since Canada Goose Hybridge Jacket the start of school was just weeks old, were the students — driven mad by Jager Bombs, all reason surrendered to Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Molson Canadian Cold Shots — who lurch through my neighbourhood until the snow flies, sending them indoors. Burnsie, as he is known, listened intently. After too many minutes had rolled by, he held up his hands in the forceful “you need to calm the hell down” manner of the homicide detective that he used to be. “I think you should talk to Jake MacIsaac,” he said, appearing to edge away in the direction of his car. “He’s got an interesting take on that whole student drinking thing.” Which is how, a few days later, I came to be sitting in a coffee shop a few blocks from Dal, talking to a man who didn’t grow up in south-end Halifax. MacIsaac, instead, comes from “generations and generations of public housing.” “I was mischievous,” he says, choosing words carefully, of his youth in the Halifax pubs. “But from my parents I always had a strong moral compass.” He grew up in their Baptist faith. The notions of social justice that captivated MacIsaac from an early age came from American religious leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. So, in a way, it makes perfect sense that after St. Patrick’s High School, where he went through the French immersion program, he enrolled in biblical studies at a satellite campus of Briercrest College and Seminary. And at 23 he became the minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Spryfield. For a time the collar fit. B Canada Goose Womens Camp Hooded Jacket ut MacIsaac was spending more time visiting sick parishioners, taking tea with senior citizens, and doing the day-to-day stuff that being a minister requires than necessarily making the world a better place. “I tend to jump without knowing the full picture,” he tells me. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.” In this case, after walking away from the church, he saw a job posting for a restorative justice worker in the African-Nova Scotian community. When the restlessness set in again five years later, he headed to Dal where Burns, who used to be Halifax Regional Police’s rep for restorative justice, had some progressive ideas about turning the security team into a resource for the university rather than just an organization that reacts when needed. “We’re really like paramedics more than anything else,” MacIsaac says. Sometimes that means saving those kids from the ravages of the bottle. Just wandering through these streets I can tell the boozing is different now than when I was ge Canada Goose Womens Montebello Parka tting slightly snozzled at the Dal SUB. Heck, MacIsaac, who is 36, says the drin Canada Goose Womens Victoria Parka king habits of university-aged kids barely resemble what they were when he was that age. Maybe they’re just more purposeful these days. Kids, he tells me, talk about being “black-out drunk,” which means they don’t remember much about last night, or brag about being “brown-out,” a somewhat lesser category of inebriation. (“There are parts of the evening that I just don’t remember.”) Another change from my day: females get as blasted as males. This, of course, can conceivably present a whole range of problems. The issue of what qualifies as consensual sex has risen to the fore on campuses across the country. The prevalent wisdom among those who give advice on such things is that if you’re too inebriated to drive, you’re too drunk to have sex. Male or female, they tell their friends they’re “going to pre,” short for “pre-drinking,” the goal of which is to quaff down as much liquor as is humanly possible in a short period of time at somebody’s squat before they all head downtown. There is, MacIsaac tells me, a science to it. If you’re too far in the bag, the bouncers at the Liquor Dome and the other watering holes won’t let you in. The whole process has to go off with the precision of a Peyton Manning flair pass (an NFL football fan, the Denver Broncos are MacIsaac’s team). The buzz can only descend when you are in the door. But since you’ve probably down to your last few loonies after visiting the NSLC, descend it must. Downtown, of course, there are controls: bouncers who will slap you in a hammerlock and goose-step you to the exit if you’re too rowdy, waiters who will bar you for your own good if you’re drooling and somnambulant in the corner. The streets where I live, MacIsaac concedes, can still seem like lawless places on Friday and Saturday nights, no matter how often the squad cars pass through. When a single-family dwelling goes up for sale in these parts it’s as likely now to be bought by a dentist in Toronto bent on squeezing in as many $500-a-room students as it is parents in search of decent schools for the kids and a short commute to work. Recently a widow in the neighbourhood decreed in her will that if offspring sold the house in which she spent her adult life, it had to go to a family. We’ll see how it all goes. In the meantime, I’m happy to hear that MacIsaac is on the job trying to prevent problems before they happen. If there’s a house in my neighbourhood that’s had a lot of booze and noise complaints in the past, he and a representative from Dal’s student services will just show up in the sober light of day. Then, in a nice way, they’ll inform the occupants — whether they are the same as last year or a new flock altogether — that they’re on their radar and they need to be aware that the patience level among their neighbours is likely pretty low. So they better watch themselves. Being caught with open liquor costs $460 in Halifax, a fraction of what it sets you back in Ontario or out west. There’s another option. They won’t have to pay a cent if they sign on and successfully complete MacIsaac’s restorative justice program. Dal students convicted of a criminal charge are welcome. Most of them, though, simply were ticketed for noise complaints or some kind of drunken debauchery. MacIsaac and the miscreant will sit down in the same room as a neighbour or someone else wronged by their revels. “What were you thinking at the time,” he likes to start out asking students of one of Canada’s great universities. Sometimes they don’t have the slightest idea.