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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

From the minds that brought you Disco Tent

Published: October 16, 2006
Section: Opinions

Since we all began our career as students at Brandeis University, there has certainly been a drastic shift in the way the social scene has been handled by the administration. To address the issues of binge drinking and pre-gaming, the administration has erected a troubling wall of paternalistic punishment, rather than address the issues in any sort of sustainable manner. The cancellation of Modfest, a semesterly party based entirely in drinking, was frustrating;

however, the recent suspension of the Less You Wear dance proves that the administration has slipped away from any sort of meaningful alcohol prevention policy to the adaptation of a disproportional method of collective punishment.

Disco Tent, a student-run beginning of the year celebration held in Sachar Woods which was attended by hundreds of members of the Brandeis Community, was created to combat the decline of the campus-party. People looked forward to Modfest for more than the booze: it was an opportunity to be at a social-oriented event with all of your classmates and friends. However, in the absence of such of an event, it was clear that we, the student body, were being forced by the administration to take matters into our own hands. As could be predicted, the administration seeks the same fate of Disco Tent that was administered to Modfest and Less You Wear. However, the administration's reasoning for dismantling our party organization is based in uninformed assumptions and the effects of their actions harm both the students and themselves.

We will always stand by the fact that Disco Tent was one of the safest parties for a student to attend. We picked a location in Sachar Woods that we felt would minimize the possibility of injury and spent countless hours removing trash from the area, cleaning up paths going into the woods, and removing rocks and other objects from the tent area that could cause a student to fall and injury him or herself. We maintained a volunteer base of 30 people to help the event run smoothly and assure that students did not get lost in the woods and even escorted disoriented people out to the main campus to assure no one would be injured or lost in the woods. Additionally, having such a giant party outside away from the residential buildings worked to avoid disturbing other students disinterested in an enormous party and helped keep our residence halls clean and damage free. While we regret that two students attending Disco Tent had to be BEMCo'ed, we feel as though that was not an unusually high number considering the 500-700 people that attended the party (with 250-350 people there at any given time).

However, in spite of the overwhelming student approval of the party, the administration appears to be working ceaselessly to shut down parties and events that we and other like-minded students organize. Various Brandeis staff members and CA s have been reporting to us that the administration wants to fence off Sachar Woods to combat Disco Tent, thus making it difficult, if not impossible, for students to access the area. If this rumor is indeed true, then it would be, yet again, a method of collective-punishment by cutting off a Brandeis resource for the entire community.

Additionally, campus administrators, especially Alwina Bennett and Jamele Adams, have been instrumental in the destruction of Brandeis' social scene, cracking down on event large and small. Students have been reporting that these administrators threaten party-planning students with punishment preemptively, often showing up to on-campus suites to demand that parties be canceled ahead of time. The effects of which go beyond disabling a popular student pass-time;

they prevent the administrator's ability to perform their jobs. As assistant deans of student life, Alwina and Jamele are figures that students are supposed to be able to approach and confide in. However, as they increasingly assume the role of the Brandeis police, students begin to detest these individuals and see them as a barrier, rather than a resource. This holds particularly true to Alwina, a woman who is seen out-of-touch with student wants, in spite of the fact that she lives amongst the students.

Moreover, as Brandeis cracks down on-campus parties, both large and small, and systematically eliminates safe, responsible locations on-campus to cut loose, students are increasingly looking towards off-campus venues to provide them with the social atmosphere that many crave. The police have been ramping up their patrols of the South St. corridor, thus forcing students to travel further into Waltham for great parties. However, this creates a more risky atmosphere for students. While Waltham is a relatively safe city, it is full of careless drivers and fast roads. As students, with an increasing frequency, walk over a mile to get to and from parties, often crossing busy roads such as Moody St. and Main St. to get to their destinations, students open themselves up for accidents. With such a mass exodus of students traveling off-campus, while intoxicated, it will not take long for student to either stumble into moving traffic or, worse, get behind the wheel of a car. The results of such actions could easily lead to fatal results.

While Brandeis can try to eliminate the campus-sponsored party, they will not succeed in eliminating the culture of pre-gaming, rather, they will only succeed in alienating themselves from the student body. Brandeis should be trying to encourage people to not drink and drive and travel in unfamiliar territory while drunk rather than make it a necessity. Moreover, the administration should know that campus-wide parties such as Disco Tent are going to continue to happen in the absence of Modfest and Less You Wear, no matter how many fences are erected and threats are made. Rather than punishing the masses because of a handful of students that are unable to control their liquor intakes, administrators should devise a plan that addresses the problems without harming the social scene and building mistrust and hatred between students and administrators.