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USQ under fire for blaming club closure on violence, drugs

A drug raid at the USQ Club in February 2010.
A drug raid at the USQ Club in February 2010.

UPDATE: The University of Southern Queensland has been widely criticised for the reasoning behind the closure of the USQ Club.

The USQ Guild will close the club in January, blaming a spike in drugs, violence and antisocial behaviour.

Social media was abuzz at the weekend as students, ex-students and Toowoomba residents hit out at the decision.

Many readers claimed the reasoning behind the closure was "USQ spin created to cover the fact that they are hellbent on closing the student guild".

There are reports that the USQ Student Guild will be closed down in January, costing about 100 people their jobs.

"What's not mentioned is that the closure of the USQ Club is a small part of the gradual financial strangling of the guild by the university, which receives more than adequate funds to help keep the guild functioning and continuing to provide valuable services to students, both on and off campus," one reader wrote.

Another reader commented: "I recall how/when the building was built in the first place. How the student body got control over it. and I'd hardly suspect the violence is any worse than it was a good decade ago."

Another online commentator also suggested USQ had not revealed the full story behind the closure.

"USQ profit last year was around $11 million. What is the hidden agenda here?"

However, there were plenty of people who supported the decision and agreed violence, drugs and antisocial behaviour were an issue at the USQ Club.

"As usual, it's the actions of a few that ruin it for others," a Facebook user commented.

"Why can't the clubs have a data base that all licences/ 18 plus cards be scanned into. That way if they cause trouble a flag comes up against their name when they try and enter another club."

 

EARLIER: A spike in drugs, violence and antisocial behaviour has sparked the looming closure of the University of Southern Queensland's only nightclub-style venue the USQ Club.

The club has become an extension of the city's nightclub scene rather than servicing staff and students, USQ corporate communications director Dr Aidan Burke said.

The USQ Guild, which currently runs the club, will close the doors in January.

"It stems from those sort of incidents (drug use and fighting) and an increase in antisocial behaviour from patrons who are not USQ students or staff," Dr Burke said.

"The club was originally put there to be used by students.

"We've had a number of those instances over the past few years and the risk to the safety of patrons is the number one concern."

The club's current site will be converted into offices and classrooms for use by the university's Open Access College.

It provides bridging courses for students who flunked out of high school and migrants who have resettled in Toowoomba.

Dr Burke said the USQ Club would be replaced by a new licensed lounge area within the student refectory.

It will be exclusively for the use of students and staff, eliminating the itinerant troublemakers who for so long plagued the old venue.

"It will be more along the lines of Olive Branch (restaurant) on Ruthven St - a bit more upmarket and specific to our needs," Dr Burke said.

"Refurbishments on the refectory are already under way... hopefully they will be finished early next year.

Financial troubles have also had an impact on the decision.

Since the Howard Government eliminated compulsory student fees, the business has struggled to keep its head above water.

"The cost is probably far exceeding the revenue," Dr Burke said.

"The flow on effects have been quite hard."

Topics:  drinking, licensing, university of southern queensland, usq, violence


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