Pomona Holds Forum to Discuss Ban on Alcohol at Weekday Events

The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Student Affairs Committee held a forum April 14 in Hart Room 201 at Pomona’s Smith Campus Center to discuss the suspension of midweek parties at Pomona. Last semester, the administration banned parties held between Sunday and Wednesday from serving alcohol in response to three alcohol transports that occurred Sept. 10, 2014. The Student Affairs Committee aimed to evaluate the effects of the suspension and ultimately reach a resolution with input from the student body.

Although the forum, facilitated by committee members Joseph Reynolds PO ’15 and Aldair Arriola-Gomez PO ’17, was sparsely attended with fewer than 10 students present, those in attendance expressed a variety of viewpoints on the ban. Some seniors expressed disappointment, feeling that the ban curbed the potential for party opportunities in their final years. Another student felt that de-emphasizing alcohol culture would bolster consent culture and expressed hope that in the future all party organizers would be trained in Teal Dot, a bystander intervention program.

The ban was instated Sept. 12, 2014, after a week of five alcohol transports, three of which occurred in the single night of Wednesday, Sept. 10.

“It’s not about being a dry campus or not; it’s about having a clear criteria where you do limit the easy availability of alcohol and have consistent enforcement of alcohol policy,” Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum said. “We’re not trying to be a dry campus, but what the national alcohol researchers, who came and visited us back in 2011, said to us was, ‘It’s not that people are getting drunk at your parties during the midweek, but by having a culture in which you have parties every day of the week, you’re fostering a substance culture that fosters more drinking through the week.' That’s why [Pomona] has higher than usual levels of high-risk drinking than the national average.”

Kyle Whalen PO ’15, who attended the forum, expressed frustration with the ban, writing in an email to TSL that the ban seemed misguided.

“One transport is too many, but there are better ways to combat dangerous drinking than an outright ban,” Whalen wrote. “I also think the school needs to recognize that there are certain times of the year where the parties are naturally more rowdy. For example, had the first party of the year after sub-free been on a Thursday night and there had been three transports then, would we be talking about a Sunday-Thursday party ban?”

No change in policy has been implemented yet, and for now, this is a temporary suspension.

According to an April 1 email Feldblum sent to the student body, the only exception on the ban is the club Vino, which holds wine tastings on Monday nights. The exception was granted because the club is an open-membership, registered student organization; the club is not a party, nor is it connected to a party; the club meetings end by 9:30 p.m.; all attendants must RSVP; and there is an attendance cap at 35 people.

“If students have strong opinions, please contact Senate!!!” 2014-15 ASPC President Rachel Jackson PO ’15 wrote in an email to TSL.

Feldblum also said that she is interested in hearing the opinions of the student body.

“What we’re doing is trying to both be driven by the data itself—make good policy by looking at the right data—but also trying to see what works at Pomona, [and] what would be reflective of Pomona,” she said.