This weekend provided a good look into the social dynamic of drinking at Williams. There were few all-campus parties Friday night, which resulted in a high incidence of private “high-risk” drinking among a small percentage of the campus. Unfortunately, this resulted in a scary situation for the whole campus and put the administration in a tough position. I am afraid of what the reaction from the administration might be, and the long-term implications it will have on the social structure on campus.
The traditional tailgate went off Saturday despite the well-justified, scared response Friday night by the administration. From what I saw a large percentage of the community took part in this great social event. There was a lot of drinking, but it was mostly of a responsible nature. This is the sort of event that the campus needs more of. It is seen as the only time when students, alumni, faculty, and security come together on common ground. I saw great school spirit, friendly interaction between everyone present, and all without the worries of fire capacity, alcohol quotas or checking IDs.
The administration needs to realize the realities of the party policy at Williams rather than blindly cracking down on party drinking. There needs to be more social events on campus where responsible drinking is advocated. It is a tough situation for the administration to be in where they cannot legally endorse drinking in any form, but there has to be some support of responsible drinking in order to prevent “high-risk” drinking.
There needs to be a reduced stigma, increased social responsibility, and increased education about the realities of alcohol. At one of the row-house parties Saturday night I was accosted by a group of freshman girls who were clearly intoxicated. They did not want me to get them beer because they said they had “pre-gamed,” all they wanted was my bracelet in order to feel cool. It is the feeling that alcohol is needed to have fun, and “I need to frontload because I can’t get beer at the party” that is dangerous.
Saturday night was a bit of anomaly. I don’t think there were any major problems but I felt there was a scared feeling in the air rather than one of celebration. The security guards were rude and pushy at the doors when many of the parties were seemingly empty with large lines outside. The student hosts were worried about every little thing, and the partygoers seemed frustrated with the situation.
The best illustration of the results of the party policy would be to look at the amount of alcohol sold by local stores, and the amount registered at parties over the past five years. I am willing to bet that the amount sold has either held constant or increased while the amount registered at parties has greatly decreased. People are not drinking less, they are just drinking less publicly and that is where it gets dangerous, when there is nobody to tell you to stop.