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London Metropolitan University's alcohol-free zone plan

image captionLondon Metropolitan University is considering alcohol-free zones

A London university is considering banning the sale of alcohol on parts of its campus.

Professor Malcolm Gillies, the vice chancellor of London Metropolitan University, said "cultural sensitivity" was the reason behind the proposal.

He said drinking alcohol was an "immoral experience for a high percentage of our students".

Prof Gillies said the backgrounds of students had changed and 20% of current students were Muslim.

He added: "Many of our students do come from backgrounds where they actually look on [drinking] as a negative.

'Drinking experience'

"We therefore need to rethink how we cater for that 21st Century balance.

"For many students now, coming to university is not about having a big drinking experience. The university bar is not as used as it used to be."

Prof Gillies said he would work with students to have areas on campus where "one serves alcohol and others don't".

He said he also thought that subsidising on-site student bars might be reconsidered as there are at least six pubs within 200m of the campus.

Alaa Alsamarrai, the vice-president of student affairs for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), said: "We want our universities and unions to be inclusive - where students from all walks of life can come together and share experiences.

'Sensible move'

"Alcohol is a barrier to many Muslim students participating in freshers events and often in society activities - so we're in support of moves to have some alcohol-free zones and events.

"Though if a student wants to drink in their lifestyle, we of course don't want to ban that."

Pete Mercer, National Union of Students vice-president for welfare, said: "We shouldn't sensationalise what is a sensible move by a university vice chancellor to make a large proportion of his students more comfortable on campus.

"These types of alcohol-free areas are used in many students' unions for a variety of reasons, some religious, others not.

"Considering the barriers to participation in higher education that many Muslim students face this is an insignificant price to pay to ensure that all students can fully participate in university life."

Farooq Murad, Muslim Council of Britain secretary general, said that thousands of Muslims attended university and as far as he was aware there had never been a demand for an alcohol ban on campuses.

He said: "There has always been a balance between social life and studying. We believe university authorities should be able to decide what works best for them in managing their campus space.

"Muslims have studied at universities for decades and we cannot imagine that others drinking alcohol will impede them from continuing to attend."

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