Much has been said in light of the recent spate of alcohol and party policy changes handed down by our administration. But one concern that we have not heard raised publicly is the effect that these new rules will have on the accessibility and diversity of college nightlife.
For a school that prides itself on being diverse and accessible, we believe these changes will have a rather perverse impact on where parties are held and who goes. Cumulatively, the new policies will have the rather unenviable effect of making parties more difficult to throw and less enjoyable for many to attend.
Faced with rising costs and new regulations, particularly for wet campus events, we believe that there is a serious risk that student groups will be less inclined to “throw down” for the campus come Friday and Saturday night. Paces and Olde Club, often abuzz with parties with themes ranging from America to Beyoncé, will become far quieter.
Indeed, the only group not likely to be substantially impacted by the new rules are the fraternities. We have nothing against fraternity parties. But we believe that Phi Psi, Delta Upsilon and the campus at large benefit from having wet events thrown by groups other than just the fraternities, and in locations other than just the frat houses. A diverse party scene benefits all of us, particularly those who’ve said they don’t feel comfortable at fraternity parties but still want to go out on the weekends.
It is obvious that many of the college’s recent decisions were made to limit liability. While we continue to be severely disappointed by the school’s failure to be direct in their communication with us about this aspect — or any aspect, for that matter — of their reasoning, we do understand it. Yet the lack of party options leads to more dorm drinking, more pregaming and more drinking in unsupervised environments. The lack of space at the frats results in drunk students wandering the campus.
None of this, of course, is set in stone. The school year has just begun, it remains to be seen exactly how the new policies will play out and we’ve been encouraged by recent signs that students are organizing to find ways to avert this scenario. But as the semester gets underway, the possibility of a decline in the number and variety of parties held at our college is one students must consider.
This would all be much easier if our administration took the time to be clear about what its concerns and motivations are. Or, if they took the time to meaningfully consult with the student body, it might not be necessary. But the signs on both fronts have not been encouraging, and thus, for now, we are on our own.
Regardless, it’s worth pointing out, once again, that when you govern without consulting the governed, your policies might wind up being antithetical to your purported aims. In her August 27 email, Lili Rodriguez, dean of diversity, inclusivity and community development — and, it seems, willy-nilly alcohol regulation — said that “for a few years now”, the school has been taking a close look at our attitude towards alcohol. By all means, let’s take that close look. But when she writes, “There must be [non-alcoholic] other ways to increase the vibrancy of social events on campus,” we do wonder: social vibrancy — in what vocabulary does that mean fewer events and less choice?
Lili — please. If you wanted to enhance social life, this was a terrible way to go about it.