1. A Quick Guide to Alcohol on Campus
  2. 10 tips for Keeping the Conversation Going
  3. Resources

Message to Parents

Carleton University is committed to providing services that support student success both inside and outside the classroom. Promoting and supporting a campus culture of responsible drinking is an important part of this commitment. While the majority of Carleton students who choose to drink, do so responsibly, there is still room for improvement. Our goal is to reduce the prevalence of high risk drinking practices and to increase the number of students who are knowledgeable about alcohol and responsible drinking behaviours.

Even as your student becomes increasingly independent, you remain a key influence on their attitudes when it comes to alcohol. You can support our efforts in encouraging responsible decision making by talking to your student about alcohol use before they arrive on campus and by keeping this conversation going even after the academic year starts. In fact, research shows that “simply the occurrence of alcohol-specific communication…predicts better alcohol use outcomes for adolescents. The more frequently conversations regarding alcohol use occur, the more likely adolescents are to use safe drinking practices” (1).

We hope you will find the following information, tips, and resources useful in starting a conversation about alcohol with your student and in addressing some of the questions or concerns that might arise. Whether your student chooses to drink or not, alcohol use is a feature of Canadian university life and you can help to prepare them for the range of situations and experiences they may encounter as a student. Thank you for your continued involvement and support on this important issue.

  1. Source: Reimuller et al. (2011). The influence of alcohol-specific communication on adolescent alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences.Prevention Science, 12 (4): 390.


A Quick Guide to Alcohol on Campus

Your student should be aware of the following policies. However, a gentle reminder from you is also a good idea. You can use these policies as a starting point for a conversation about personal responsibility and your respective expectations for your student’s conduct.

  • Make your own expectations for your student’s behaviour clear.
  • Have an open conversation about how the parent/child relationship will change. Emphasize that your student will now be responsible for making many of their own decisions and for dealing with the consequences of these decisions, but that you are here to listen and to provide support.
  • Discuss how personal responsibility includes respecting the rights of other community members (e.g. privacy, property, study, sleep, physical and emotional health, etc.).


  • The Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy governs non-academic behaviour on campus (including misconduct related to the use of alcohol) and is meant to ensure a safe, respectful, and diverse campus environment.
  • All students who live in residence sign a Residence Contract which outlines their responsibilities as residents including issues related to the consumption of alcohol.
  • The Carleton University Alcohol Policy outlines the University’s rules regarding the marketing, advertising, and service of alcohol on campus. Carleton’s policy has been recognized as an example of institutional best practice.
  • The Carleton University Alcohol Awareness Strategy aims to increase coordination between university departments in delivering programs that will result in fewer Carleton students involved in alcohol-related incidents and more Carleton students who are knowledgeable about alcohol and who are drinking responsibly earlier in their university careers.
  • Ontario’s Liquor License Act: The LLA governs the sale and consumption of alcohol. In Ontario, the legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol is 19. This also applies to Carleton where persons under the age of 19 may not purchase, obtain, possess, or consume alcohol anywhere on campus (including residence).
  • Ontario Ministry of Transportation: Did you know Ontario has some of the toughest impaired driving laws in North America? This includes a Zero BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) law that applies to all drivers under the age of 21.


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10 tips for Keeping the Conversation Going


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As a parent, you are often the first person a student turns to when they need advice and this can be equally true when it comes to alcohol-related issues. Familiarizing yourself with the available resources will be help you point them in the right direction.

The Transition Guide is a great starting point for learning more about how you can support your student throughout their university experience. This guide covers such information as the academic calendar; important dates and deadlines; the student clock; staying healthy; and the release of information. Interested in keeping up to date on what’s happening at Carleton? Subscribe to the Carleton Parent newsletter.

  • CU Don’t Know: This campaign attempts to correct perceived norms about the drinking habits of Carleton students and provides students with various responsible drinking strategies. You might find the “Drinking 101” and “What is Everyone Else Doing?” features particularly useful in starting a conversation with your student.
  • e-CHUG (electronic Check Up to Go): e-CHUG is an anonymous online tool that provides feedback on your alcohol consumption. Not only is it quick (it only takes about 10 minutes!), it generates a personal BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) chart, helps you track how much money you are spending on alcohol, and shows how your drinking habits compare to the Carleton, provincial, and national averages. Feel free to complete the quiz yourself and discuss what you learn with your student.
  • Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse: Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines promote a culture of moderation with the intention of reducing occurrences of immediate and long term alcohol-related harms.
  • Government of Canada: The Healthy Canadians entry on alcohol includes useful information and resources regarding the long-term and short-term health health effects associated with alcohol abuse, responsible drinking practices, and responsible hosting practices.
  • Health & Counselling Services: Health and Counselling Services provides specialized services to meet the needs of Carleton students as well as basic medical and walk-in services. This includes confidential personal counselling both at the clinic and via a satellite office in Residence Commons (for students living in residence). HCS also offers a guided self-help program for students who are motivated to quit or cut down on their alcohol use.  
  • University Safety:It is important that your student know how to contact University Safety in the event of an on-campus emergency.
  • Student Affairs:Student Affairs has prepared a useful guide for students coping with stress or crisis. Included is a more comprehensive guide to on-campus resources which you may helpful in encouraging your student to access the appropriate support services (e.g. academic, health and wellness, etc.).