Residents of the First-Year Quad were shocked last week to find an anonymous message in the DA, complaining about the Quad’s noise problem. The message blamed drinking for the loud noise, along with the lax class schedule of Winter Study.
Many residents of the First-Year Quad, however, viewed this message as inflammatory and overblown. Some took offense at the email address listed at the end of the message: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I wanted to make a statement,” said the person who sent the message, wishing to remain anonymous. “People think that they can just drink and make loud noise and not care about anyone else’s right to a good night’s sleep. I mean, I haven’t had a moment’s rest since December.”
The drinking issue on campus has been a heated one this year, fueled by October’s incident at Agard and the ensuing debate over the continuance of the Party Policy. The campus has divided into two distinct camps: students who support underage drinking, and students who don’t care.
“Personally, I really don’t think the noise is a problem. By about one in the morning, I can hardly hear anything anymore,” said one resident of Sage before passing out. Another student said of the Frosh-Quad noise, “This semester we got four noise complaints from people trying to work in the Spencer Art Building. Four complaints out of 365 days in a year? Do the math. We’re not even 2% loud. I think we’re doing pretty well, if you ask me.”
One resident of Williams E, Jacques Strap ’01, had this to say, “Winter Study is a time for relaxation, not a time to rest. If this person wanted sleep, why didn’t they get it over Winter Break or during class? It’s my right to party if I want to. If someone doesn’t like it, they should throw their own party. A quiet party. Then everyone’s happy.”
Others begged to differ. Anita Bath, ’01, tried to spend the night in the Health Center last Tuesday after not having had any sleep in two weeks. When she got there, all the beds were occupied by underage drinkers suffering from alcohol poisoning. “The nurses were very nice,” Bath said. “They suggested I get some sleep. And they gave me some Sudafed.”
Director of Health Services, Wayne King, denies any problems with the Health Center’s abilities. “Rumors that we are removing beds in order to decrease the number of students with alcohol poisoning are summarily incorrect. We have been considering other options, however, such as making them sleep on the floor or storing them in a closet.”
This DA message is only the latest in what many see as the slippery slope towards a “dry” campus. Advocates of drinking on campus have already begun pointing fingers at who is responsible.
Some blame the JA system for promoting the use of alcohol among first-years. Some blame an overactive Williamstown Police Force that is trying to discredit the college and its iron grip over town policy. Everyone blames the Deans.
One JA, who wished to remain anonymous, defended his fellow advisors, “It is a JA’s job to facilitate drinking, responsibly. We don’t push alcohol on anyone who doesn’t want it, but we make it clear that it is their choice whether or not to drink, and it would be a shame if that choice were made by an outdated system of morality and a corrupt guilt-based religious code.”
Another JA, Eura Snotball ’99, added, “Underage drinking is not a problem. Drinking to excess is a problem. Just like casual heroin hits are not a problem. But when you start vomiting all over your common room, it’s time to start looking inward.”
I.P. Freely ’00, Arts Editor of the Free Press, had a different view on the situation. “Drinking on campus was never a problem until fraternities were abolished. If all the heavy drinkers formed a fraternity and lived in the same house, the whiny people who complain about noise wouldn’t have to deal with it. Besides, they’d have the added bonus of increased alumni support and a strong link with tradition. The whiny people might even form their own fraternity, a non-drinking one, and we could have a color war or something. Purple Team versus Gold Team.” A third JA, who also wished to remain anonymous, believed that the whole issue itself was a product of politics. “If a law is unjust, we have a responsibility to ignore it. That was the message of Gandhi, of Martin Luther King, of the American Revolution. Underage drinking is a form of nonviolent protest. If we, as JAs, denied alcohol to our first-years, we’d be violating the spirit of Gandhi. No one wants to do that.”
The Dean’s Office is withholding comment until its legal troubles are resolved.