Editorial Board: CMC Students Should Clarify Social Scene Argument

On March 6, Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College President Aditya Pai sent an open letter to the Claremont McKenna College community encouraging CMC’s administration to recognize student concerns about the decrease in quality of the school’s social scene and the subsequent increase in unsafe drinking on campus.

This letter was accompanied by several other measures by CMC students including a Change.org petition, personal e-mails, a Facebook event, and the coordination of a “beeramid” on March 8 to protest the perceived decline in CMC’s social scene.

This editorial board agrees with Pai that event organizers at the Claremont Colleges should do more to ensure that events that do not encourage binge drinking beforehand are offered to students. However, we also assert that in their efforts to gain attention and express their frustration with the administration, the students who have been vocal about this issue have created an unclear message about their goals in addressing the social scene.

Pai’s statements in this week’s News article (see page 1) argue that alcohol has become an increasingly central aspect of CMC’s social scene, and that students often feel that they need to get drunk to enjoy parties such as TNC. He emphasizes the need to examine the social scene as a whole, that both wet and dry events should be considered, and that the purpose of this initiative is to make the social scene more inclusive. Yet students organized a “beeramid” last week as part of their protest against the administration’s new party policies, which seems to directly contradict Pai’s argument and objective.

If students are dissatisfied with the administration, they must be clear, reasonable, and consistent in their demands. The construction of the “beeramid” could have had the power to undo other well-intentioned and well-reasoned actions. By engaging in typical college debauchery within the forum of what needs to be a serious and informed debate, students can remove the power of their message. Additionally, students who wish to make changes in the administrative handling of the social scene should clarify their argument about exactly how security presence, fencing, and other event management policies actually make students less safe at parties.

In developing an argument to be presented to the administration of any college, students must realize they are at a disadvantage to gain recognition for all demands, especially when it comes to an aspect of campus life that can seem secondary to more traditional facets of a top college education. Though the social scene is an important part of 5C life, concerns with this area of social life are likely to be valued under pursuits like academics. It is hard to argue against administrative policies intended to protect students from the possibility of injury, sexual assault, and other occurrences often associated with excessive drinking.

Given the situation, students who are passionate about changing the social scene at CMC should clarify their arguments and their goals, stating exactly how the changed policies have jeopardized students’ safety and access to a vibrant social scene and what can be done to find a solution that is realistic and agreeable both to students and to the administration.