If Not Student Fees, What Funds Alcohol at Campus Parties?

Parties like “Mudd Goes Madd” in 2015, pictured here, have provided beer and other alcoholic beverages to students above 21. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

The Pitzer Student Senate proposed a bill earlier this month that would temporarily permit the use of student activity funds for alcohol. Although the bill was tabled due to conflicts with the Pitzer student handbook, alcohol is already commonly seen at student events across the 5Cs. Who pays for it?

According to the bylaws and constitutions of 5C student governments, none of the colleges are allowed to use student activity funds to purchase alcohol. Beyond that, college policies are varied.

Elizabeth Amezcua, director of Health Education Outreach for the Claremont University Consortium, wrote in an email to TSL that “these policies are developed and implemented with the safety of students in mind.” She said they are all created in adherence to local, state, and federal laws regarding alcohol and drugs.

Associate Students of Harvey Mudd College treasurer David Olumese HM ’19 expanded upon the reasoning behind this policy.

“The majority of the student body cannot legally consume these substances, so as to be in accordance with state and federal law, we do not fund them,” Olumese wrote in an email to TSL. “Any dorm or student organization that throws a non-dry event cover[s] the alcohol expenditures using private funds."

Olumese emphasized that there are benefits to this system as well, such as “creating a more inclusive environment and encouraging events where all members of the community can choose to participate.”

Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pitzer College have similar motivations.

Scripps Associated Students co-treasurers Romanshi Gupta SC ’19 and Grace Wang SC ’19 wrote in an email to TSL that this policy “helps to ensure more equitable spending so that [clubs and organizations] are encouraged to utilize their funds to do things other than host parties.”

In the case of non-dry events, however, Gupta and Wang wrote that “funds for alcohol must be fundraised independently and serving the alcohol must pass through the approval of the Dean of Students.”

The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College executive board operating procedures list ticketed social events, yearbook, and merchandise sales as avenues to support expenditures on alcohol.

Pomona College is the only memeber of the consortium that contains a separate fund for alcohol specifically while still adhering to student government bylaws, as Associated Students of Pomona College Executive Vice President Carlos Hernandez PO ’18 explained.

“We use profit from vending machines and the Amazon program that we have in place to put in a fund we call the alcohol fund,” he said.

The alcohol fund is used to sponsor alcohol at events upon requests by student organizations and approval by John Lopes, the assistant director of the Smith Campus Center.

There is a limit to the alcohol that can be provided through applying to the fund—one keg or twenty bottles of beer under five dollars each—but student organizations can also fundraise additionally or use alumni donations to supplement what they receive from ASPC.

Additionally, Hernandez explained that although historically the alcohol fund could only be used for events happening on campus, ASPC is trying to be more lenient in terms of execution.

“We have been more understanding,” he said, citing one case in the past year in which an organization was allowed to use funds off campus after confirming there was no safety issue.

Hernandez also said that the “alcohol fund at Pomona has been decreasing quite a bit.” The fund fell from $10,000 from the 2013 to 2014 school year to less than $5,000 in 2015, a trend which results from the decreased usage of vending machines.

“To be fair,” Hernandez added, "very often we don’t end up spending it all."

Regarding the impact of the alcohol fund on the Pomona community, Hernandez said that “if we can provide a space where people come to drink for quality, that’s a positive change.”