Seniors to stay sober for special week

At the onset of the Fall 2006 semester, administrators at the College decided that seniors would no longer be able to consume alcoholic beverages in the Travers and Wolfe dormitories during Senior Week. Though alcohol is not permitted in the dorms, it will be served at nightly Senior Week activities.

Members of the senior class council, Student Government Association (SGA), students of the senior class and administrators from the College met to discuss changes made to the Senior Week alcohol policy on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Magda Manetas, executive director for Student and Residential Development, addressed the rationale behind what she referred to as “returning to the College’s alcohol policy.”

Manetas said that during her career at the College, data have been collected and analyzed regarding alcohol consumption during Senior Week, as well as throughout the academic year. The data suggests an increase in the number of hospital transports among underclassmen and upperclassmen alike, in addition to rising measures of blood alcohol content and incidents of vandalism.

In response to the data, summits on alcohol consumption were held with members of the local community and College administrators. Manetas said that feedback garnered from the summits indicated that the College presented “mixed messages” regarding its alcohol policy.

Manetas mentioned that those present at the summit indicated the toleration of alcohol consumption at events such as Homecoming and Senior Week as a source for the “mixed messages.”

In addition to data analysis, a senior class council survey of seniors contributed to the decision of prohibition. Seniors were asked what they feel is the purpose of Senior Week.

Seniors responded, to varying degrees, that Senior Week serves as a culmination to the college experience and an opportunity to be with friends. Administrators at the College did not view alcohol as being associated with these responses.

When asked if they would attend Senior Week, only half the survey’s participants indicated they would, with some citing the rowdiness and excessive consumption of alcohol typically associated with the event as reasons not to attend.

“We feel very firmly in the change that we’ve made in adhering to the alcohol policy,” Manetas said.

Tom Sales, senior political science major, voiced his discontent with the changes made to Senior Week, primarily that students were not involved in the decision-making process.

“The more important voice is that of the students, not the administrative body,” Sales said.

Sales cited the current alcohol policy, which permits alcohol consumption for students 21 years of age or older, with certain restrictions including container volume and quantity. Sales said it was hypocritical of the administration to prohibit what would otherwise be legal alcohol consumption.

“The administration is not returning to the alcohol policy, it’s making it stricter,” Sales said.

Marilyn Bowers, registered nurse at the College, responded that the consumption of alcohol in a semi-private setting, such as the Travers and Wolfe dormitories, presents certain liability issues.

Bowers said that she could potentially lose her nursing license in the event of a fatal incident involving alcohol, and for this reason she has fought for a re-evaluation of Senior Week plans for the past five years.

Dan Beckelman, SGA senator at-Large, questioned whether a compromise could be reached regarding alcohol policy for future Senior Weeks.

“You can’t say prohibition and there can’t be ‘Animal House.’ There needs to be some sort of a happy median,” Beckelman said.

In response, Manetas said that in the past, students have shown up to Senior Week already intoxicated and have continued to remain so throughout. This indicated that students were not consuming alcohol in moderation.

Presently, Senior Week is scheduled to take place from May 15-18. Upon arrival, seniors will be asked to open their luggage so that Senior Week staff can examine the contents.

Luggage will not be searched by hand. The bags will be opened and ResLife staff will search them by sight. Once seniors are inside the Travers and Wolfe dormitories, they will be unable to leave the buildings, except to attend Senior Week events. At this point, the new alcohol policy stands for all future Senior Weeks at the College.

Seniors also discussed the price of Senior Week, which is expected to be between $200 and $230.