ACE must diversify offerings

A couple weekends ago, I attended the ACE-sponsored Bonfire on Poker Flats. While a fine event (I only caught part of it), it seems as though ACE has not gone far enough. Burning banners to insult our rivals may be fine, but I think if we really want to make an impact, we need to expand our horizons. Next time an Amherst team comes to town, we should perhaps have some ACE-sponsored tar-and-feathering with a few of their players. Or perhaps there could be an ACE-sponsored drunken riot, where students storm the field mid-game if the home team isn’t doing well.

I don’t want my irony to misrepresent me, but I do think that ACE seems to have gone a little too far. Between the toga party and the bonfire, it seems to want to push us to the lowest common denominator. Both of these events seem to be almost parodies of collegiate behavior. Ere we forget, Animal House was supposed to be a mockery as much as a celebration of that lifestyle.

Now, we at Williams are a smart bunch. But that doesn’t mean getting totally ripped and stumbling to a late-night isn’t a good release now and then. However, ACE is supposed to be all-campus entertainment, and it currently seems to interpret that as doing the simplest and most primitive stuff possible. It’s both expanding the amount of idiotic stuff at Williams, and pushing the level of the most idiotic lower. I’m not arguing for an elimination, or even a reduction, of partying, but merely greater breadth in the type of events ACE sponsors and the intended audience.

I just looked at the ACE calendar, lest it be sponsoring Violin Quartets and Chess Tournaments. There’s definitely some nice stuff, such as stress-busting Wednesdays, plus a goodly number of parties. But on the whole, ACE seems to be dragging us down as a cultural institution.

Well, I’m not saying ACE should stop sponsoring all things not erudite and culturally enriching. But I do think that it should diversify a little bit on general principle; it’s shown a tendency to cater to a rather specific segment of campus, and that’s a serious problem given the role ACE is supposed to occupy.

Moreover, ACE has so much power that it affects institutional memory. Whatever ACE does will set precedents, and so slightly more varied events would be beneficial—they’d both expand ACE’s appeal, and show that ACE can assume a more inclusive role in campus social life. Indeed, sponsoring a wide variety of events seems implicit in the ACE Constitution: ACE is to sponsor “diverse” activities and the General Entertainment group is to plan, among other things, “non-traditional social events.” Certainly, a toga party and a bonfire might be both of these things, but in a very specific vein. On the whole, ACE seems to cater to a very specific crowd.

From a more practical standpoint, ACE receives a tremendous amount of college funding, and as a result has a lot of power. This is not a bad thing; it means better coordination. But it is only just if the campus is well-represented.

ACE representatives need to realize ACE will attract certain types of people, ones who may tend toward similar opinions. While the theoretical structure may circumvent this, the reality may not. But this does not relieve ACE of the responsibility of trying to be an institution that serves the entire student body. Politics tends to attract those interested in power; that doesn’t mean that politicians should only serve those who can get them more. Some sort of more active canvassing which deliberately approaches all parts of campus might be in order.

So far, ACE has coordinated some terrific events, some good events, and some that seem to both degrade the cultural and social environment and represent a very narrow slice of this campus. It’s still a very new organization, and has the opportunity to rectify these mistakes.