With Harwood in Danger, Students Should Tread Lightly

Pomona College’s annual Halloween party, Harwood Halloween, has become an occasion where some students binge drink and get intoxicated to unsafe levels. We saw it last year when students pushed up against the fence outside Pomona’s Information Technology Services (ITS) parking structure after being turned away, creating what amounted to a dangerous riot just where ambulances were driving up to transport overly-intoxicated students to the hospital.

This year, the administration is threatening to cancel the party if students don’t clean up their act and refrain from excessive and dangerous drinking behavior.

It’s a threat students should listen to. The first official Harwood Halloween was held in the mid-1980s, though students have been celebrating the holiday in a similar fashion in various dorms and venues around campus since the college’s founding. This Editorial Board urges students to consider that history when going out tomorrow night.

Claremont students are not the only ones facing pressure from campus administrators to clean up their act at major parties, where students are known to end up at the hospital with alcohol poisoning or other alcohol-related issues, including injuries. The Dean of Students at Occidental College has threatened to discontinue that school’s sorority-sponsored Toga party, which has come under fire recently for causing a high number of alcohol transports.

But threatening to cancel parties won’t motivate students to drink more safely on its own. Any discussion about excessive alcohol consumption at the 5Cs should be accompanied by a discussion about alcohol policy enforcement. This Editorial Board has previously endorsed a rethinking of acceptable drinking spaces and policies on campus in an effort to encourage students—particularly underclassmen—to drink more responsibly and maturely in social settings. At this year’s Harwood Halloween, there will be alcohol served for free to students of age, which may help alleviate excessive pre-gaming.

Student and administrative organizers of Harwood Halloween are sincerely worried about the party this weekend. Not because they’re opposed to alcohol consumption, but because we, as students, haven’t proven to them that we can attend a party like this in a responsible manner, in a way that doesn’t put our livers and lives at risk. To be fair, the existence of alcohol transports is not entirely the fault of students—it’s also a function of alcohol policy and the campus social scene. But students have the ability to influence the 5C alcohol and party culture if we care enough to act like adults. We hope you will tomorrow night.