BYOC party brings personality, sustainability to social scene

We’re used to seeing the red plastic cups dotting the grass along the path down Mission Hill and the Keystone cans overflowing in common room trash bins. But when Ephs walked past Paresky on Monday, they craned their necks to catch a glimpse of an out-of-the-ordinary collection of Solo cups and beer cans on Chapin Lawn.

The display was Thursday Night Grassroots’ way to advertise for their Bring-Your-Own-Cup Party, which took place Saturday night in Spencer House as a means of spreading awareness about the impact recycling partying materials can have on the environment.

Lexie Carr ’13, an active member of Thursday Night Grassroots (TNG), partnered with Carly Schulman ’13 to lead the event. The pair spearheaded TNG’s organization’s public relations, publicizing the party through different media, educating the campus and spreading awareness for topics of importance to the group.

The display outside Paresky was one of the most successful means of publicity for TNG. Helen Song ’14 and Carr were responsible for the head-turning advertisement. They had members of TNG sign up to go to different dorm rooms and “dig through the trash, taking out only recyclable materials” that weren’t in the appropriate bins, Carr said. According to Carr, the beer cans and Solo cups they assembled were from a single day of scavenging, and only from about three-quarters of the dormitories on campus. “It was Helen [Song]’s idea to do the chalking and make the tree shape out of what we found,” Carr said. “We’ve gotten a lot of really positive reactions from people” regarding the display, Carr said, and she believes it was one of the causes for the party’s overwhelming success.

Saturday night’s party featured a keg of locally brewed beer from Great Barrington, an assortment of cheeses from nearby Cricket Creek Farm and root beer from Bennington. Live music courtesy of “Filmore and the Deviants” “made our event what it was,” Carr said. They played songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Matchbox 20, Bob Dylan and the Old Crow Medicine Show. “There was a lot of flexibility – you could be in the room with beer and food, or go to the library where the band was playing and sit, listen and enjoy yourself, or dance,” Carr said. At the College, there aren’t many parties with a live band; events tend to either be concerts or social gatherings, “but this was nice because we blended the two,” Carr said.

But for many, the main attraction was the bring-your-own-cup-rule. Ephs sported mugs, thermoses, simple plastic cups, reusable coffee cups and other non-glass containers. “One of my housemates wins the prize for most creative [cup],” Carr said, citing the use of a little pumpkin that had been hollowed out to drink out of. Another partygoer, a rugby player, had his drinks poured into a giant metal trophy he had won. One popular option was plastic cups taken from the College dining halls, although unfortunately many of these were left at Spencer House after the guests had left.

Glass cups were strictly banned from the party as Campus Safety and Security was concerned that if students were to jostle each other, someone would drop the glass and it would shatter. Ceramic containers were almost prohibited as well until TNG explained their vision for the party and why it was important for people to be able to bring reusable glasses. “Security was very receptive and understanding,” Carr said, referring to their original reluctance to serve alcohol in cups other than those of the Solo brand. “When hosts and servers are trained, they get trained with Solo cups,” Carr said, and so are familiar with the shape and dimensions to know to exactly which groove to fill the cups up to. But when using students’ cups, there is no such reference. TNG overcame this obstacle by offering to provide the server with a plastic measuring cup Carr had at home. “This is the third year we’ve had a Bring-Your-Own-Cup party and by this point we’ve figured out the security and logistical concerns that come with throwing an unconventional party,” Carr said.

Overall, the party was a big hit; both the partygoers and the party planners were pleased with its outcome. “With this event, my hope is to really encourage responsible partying both environmentally and socially. We can live sustainably and responsibly in a fun way, with good quality beer, music and social interactions. We wanted to show people that there is a whole other way we can have a good time,” Carr said.

And, the big question – does Carr practice what she preaches and bring her own cup to other parties around campus? “I don’t think I’ve drunk out of a Solo cup this school year, but I don’t bring my own cup,” she said. “I find one that’s reusable there. I generally go to parties at co-ops and off-campus houses, so I just borrow one of my friends’ cups.”