Members of the CUL held an open forum on Thursday night to hear students concerns’ about substance-free housing. Director of Housing Tom McEvoy, Elizabeth Lee ’01 and Jason Oraker ’00 will present feedback gathered Thursday to Dean Peter Murphy and to students attending an open discussion to be held Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Baxter Lounge.
Five students, all supportive of substance-free housing, attended the forum. McEvoy explained that he would take notes on their opinions and later compile them as one more piece of information for Murphy to consider when making his decision as to whether the school will offer substance-free housing next year.
Students supported substance-free housing for a variety of reasons. A first-year living in Morgan Hall complained that students pay dues for alcohol whether or not they drink. Another felt alienated by the predominant drinking culture at Williams. As a freshman, he was frustrated with having to care for an intoxicated roommate weekend after weekend, and hoped to live in a house next year where he would feel no pressure to drink.
Another first-year called substance-free housing a good option for recovering alcoholics and cited the general health of the student body as a reason to support CUL’s proposal.
Rebecca Semble ’01, a current resident of Hubble, thought that many more students would come out in support of substance-free housing if they did not fear the stigma imposed on non-drinkers by an alcohol oriented culture.
Mike Paarlberg ’02 adamantly and articulately supported substance-free housing, and questioned those who oppose it.
“I don’t see anything wrong in the college joining all other colleges in Western civilization who offer this option,” he said.
He also complained that those who oppose the proposal use deliberately misleading words such as “segregation” and “polarization” to label what he sees a mere formalization of an already existing housing structure. “I’ve talked to people at other colleges and I haven’t heard about any beer wars,” he said. “People are scared of non-drinkers so that allowing any concessions to non-drinkers at all would threaten the drinking culture.”
Paarlberg mocked the idea that it would somehow hurt the college’s diversity to allow a few non-drinkers to live separately. “I’d rather be left alone by drinkers,” he said.