This week, the College took a major step towards improving the quality of social life on our campus. In a highly anticipated move, the administration decided to no longer charge students for security officers at parties and other events. This comes after much lobbying on behalf of social planning groups, particularly All-Campus Entertainment (ACE), which had devoted over 30 percent of this year’s party budget to security costs. The move also coincides with a general commitment on behalf of student leaders and the administration toward improving the beleaguered campus social scene.
While a seemingly simple change, this decision will have sweeping effects across campus. Over the past year, the College has made a significant effort towards simplifying the party-planning process, though this is the administration’s first cost-cutting move.
While the Community Life Coordinators (CLCs) and House Coordinators (HCs) are still searching to define their roles, this change should have immediate effects. Parties such as First Chance Dance last weekend can run up massive security charges, which limit the quality of entertainment and refreshments. At $36 per hour per security guard, event organizers often have to pay as much as $800 to security for an evening. Last year, the Social Chairs committee devoted 39 percent of its budget to security costs. That is money that can now be devoted to increasing the quality and quantity of events.
We are pleased to see this kind of commitment to providing a safe and vibrant social system by the College, which until last year had largely ignored the problems within the social planning system. Along with the implementation of the CLCs and a clear commitment to the House Coordinator system, the administration is making a concerted effort to tackle the dearth of social events that was endemic of the last academic year. We are also enthusiastic to see the successes of ACE over these first few weeks of class. Each weekend has been marked by frequent and successful parties, a promising start to the year.
The College is now seeing the results of efforts begun two years ago by students who acted upon the need for a reinvigorated event planning group. In the fall of 2000, parties were sparse and underclassmen, who had resorted to drinking quietly in their rooms, made the pages of the Record several times after being rushed to the hospital following a night of dangerous drinking.
Due to a lack of organized activities, the preponderance of drinking games rose to such a level that the College banned the games altogether. These events led to a serious self-examination of the social planning process, prompted by the leaders of the fledgling Student Activities Committee (SAC) and Housing Committee. After what was essentially a building year, culminating in the creation of ACE last spring, we are glad to see the beginnings of a promising semester. Not only have there been a plethora of events in the past few weeks, but the new fiscal structure has proved beneficial in securing big-name concerts. As the Record reports in this week’s issue, ACE’s independence from the typical College Council funding processes allowed them to contract with Ben Folds for a concert later this fall.
While the College has made a major commitment toward the improvement of social life, there are many details which must be resolved before the system can run effectively. The CLCs are struggling to define their place on this campus, especially without any specific institutional roles in the party-planning process. Many parties are still planned without the aid of CLCs and much of the student body is unclear as to the benefits they can provide. Ideally, these would include assistance in all-campus party planning and other campus-wide events.
More importantly, solid lines of communication between the HCs and ACE planners have yet to be established. This is due to the institutional divide between the all-campus party planners and the HCs.
Since members of the former Housing Committee were also the organizers of major parties, planners found it easier to find sufficient hosts and peer monitors. ACE leaders now lament the loss of that resource and too frequently ACE must pay for hosts and peer monitors using money that could be better spent elsewhere. HCs must be more involved in the all-campus party process and should not concentrate solely on house events.
Despite these initial faults, we are certain that the new foundation is solid and the details can be easily overcome through increased communication and a strengthened definition of each group’s role in the social-planning process. We are pleased to see the administration acting upon its commitment to an improved social scene and we hope that the successes of these past few weeks continue throughout the year.