Claremont McKenna College’s planned senior class trip to Las Vegas was canceled after its ‘100 Days’ trip to a Los Angeles nightclub was marred by drug use, excessive drinking, property damages and inappropriate behavior, CMC Senior Class President Sobechukwu Uwajeh CM ’22 said in a March 2 email.
For many students, 100 Days — held Feb. 24 — was a fun night with friends to celebrate their approaching graduation. But that wasn’t true for everyone. Several students were kicked out of the club by bouncers for fighting and excessive intoxication, according to Uwajeh.
The senior class has a tradition of celebrating 200 days, 100 days and 50 days before graduation, usually in the form of clubbing or partying with ASCMC sponsorship of the event.
But now, CMC seniors will no longer be able to join their Pomona College counterparts at the previously-planned joint 50 days weekend trip to Las Vegas this weekend.
A CMC senior who spoke on condition of anonymity due to proximity to the events reported witnessing multiple students going into stalls together to use cocaine and that some students even did so openly on the restroom sink.
The senior also told TSL that some of the underclassmen chaperones for the event were drunk, in violation of their instructions for the night and illegally, as many were underage. Uwajeh confirmed the observation, adding that some seniors gave wristbands to non-seniors and even non-CMC students.
Additionally, there was an alcohol-related medical transport, urine scattered over the bus bathroom and vomit on the bus floor, seats and vent system. The property damages of the night were about $2,000, according to Uwajeh.
CMC’s 100 Days was held at Elevate Lounge in LA on Feb. 24. The club was rented out by the college for the senior class, accompanied by some underclassmen volunteer chaperones. The senior class has a budget of $20,000 for the year. Alcohol was allowed at the event since the majority of the class is 21 or older. There was also transportation to and from the club through school-sponsored buses.
Dean of Students Dianna Graves CM ’98 told TSL that the first priority of the college is the safety of students, and as such, her first reaction was relief that nobody suffered serious health and safety consequences.
Still, she said in an email, “I was disappointed to hear about the range of irresponsible behaviors and was frustrated that those behaviors reflected so poorly on CMC and may have jeopardized our relationships with key vendors.”
Compared to 100 Days, the 200 Days event held Oct. 21 at Fox Theatre in Pomona went off without a hitch, Uwajeh told TSL.
She said the ambience at 200 Days was different due to the setting of Pomona compared to downtown LA. She added that it was one of the first big parties in person after being online for over a year.
“I actually was able to enjoy myself that night. But with 100 Days, I just felt a little defeated,” she said. “I think there’s just ultimately less gratitude for [100 Days]. When we were having parties coming right back out of COVID-19, we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m just so happy to even have this.’ But I think now with the changing situation, it just feels like we don’t have that.”
Despite much careful planning between the senior class cabinet and the dean of students office, Uwajeh said that there is no way they could have predicted the behavior and incidents of the night. She said that there could have been more communication with the bouncers and perhaps stricter rules regarding drinking before the event, but that even if the latter action was taken, it was nearly impossible to control.
The anonymous senior said that there could have been more precautions taken.
“We went to LA, a place where people party even more, but you removed all the safeguards, and no one was informed. I think people might even have expected Advocates to be there,” they said.
The CMC Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence often has volunteers present at ASCMC sponsored parties on-campus.
“Three to five sober Advocates with identifying t-shirts will act as volunteer lifeguards to monitor the party and provide support (and water!) for people who need it,” an Instagram post from @CMC_Advocates said.
Advocates are not at parties to “punish or be a disciplinary force” and must “prioritize what is safely within [their] capabilities,” according to the Instagram post.
“Please treat us with respect — lifeguards are volunteering their time to be a resource for those attending the party,” the post’s caption said.
The Advocates declined to comment.
Courtney Reed CM ’22 also expressed concern about the drunken state of some underclassmen chaperones and a lack of awareness about them.
“Usually Advocates have the special [teal] colored shirts, [but the chaperones] were dressed like normal. There was no way to point them out if you needed help or anything,” she said. “We weren’t told there were going to be chaperones at all. If I needed help, I wasn’t going to be looking for a chaperone because I didn’t even know they were there. So I thought that was really odd.”
Uwajeh told TSL via message that “seniors generally had an idea [that] underclassman volunteers would be around. That happened for 200 days and [their presence] has been a thing at CMC Senior parties for a while.”
But the anonymous senior said the information could have been clearer.
“I think there should have been a little more communication telling people that we’re going to a club in LA and you could get kicked out,” the senior said. “I don’t think anyone thought they could get kicked out.”
As a result of the cost of damages and inappropriate behavior, the senior class cabinet decided to opt for a day trip to Huntington Beach on March 25 rather than join Pomona seniors in Las Vegas. Alcohol will not be provided, especially because the beach does not allow for possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages, Uwajeh said.
“[From] LA to Vegas, that’s another step, another notch, and we couldn’t ensure or even feel confident in the fact that it would be a really safe situation for our class,” Uwajeh said.
She also said that due to the damages incurred, the price for tickets to Vegas would have increased, and ASCMC did not want to make the trip inaccessible for any students.
However, some CMC students said they were frustrated with the move.
“I don’t think it’s the right decision,” Dhruv Narula CM ’22 said. “Because I think it’s the entire class being punished for the actions of just a few people. I don’t think [their behavior was] different from behavior that would occur at any other nightclub that wasn’t booked by the college.”
Reed concurred: “I’m so upset about it.”
She added that those partaking in illegal substances are most likely the ones that can afford to go to Vegas on their own while those who can’t afford it without CMC sponsorship lost the opportunity to visit Vegas.
“You have this small subset of people that would be doing the same things, regardless of where they are and you’re blanketing the entire class and no one gets to go. But if they wanted to go, they would,” Reed said. “And I’m almost certain there’s going to be a group of people that make their way to Vegas before graduation and have a blast. Meanwhile, the rest of us are sitting on a beach in 90 degree weather and have to pay for the bus to get there.”
Graves expressed support for the pivot to the 50 Days beach event as a replacement for the Vegas trip.
“While there are a few who are upset, I think the vast majority of our students understand that lines were crossed, and they believe the consequences are reasonable,” Graves said.
Uwajeh said that the decision to not discipline any individual students was partly because CMC is a close-knit college.
“As a class, we need to accept responsibility rather than just pushing the individual actors out the bus and be like, ‘Yeah, just you can’t go to Vegas, or just you can’t do this.’ I don’t see any point in doing that. [The responsibility] is really a group thing, a class thing.”
I think that all of our senior class events shouldn’t be centered around night time drinking and partying.
Uwajeh also said that part of her campaign platform from last year was to build a more inclusive class environment and create new traditions, so the pivot from Vegas to the beach was an opportunity to do just that.
“CMC, as great as it is, has room for improvement. I think that all of our senior class events shouldn’t be centered around night time drinking and partying. I feel like there should be more than that,” she said. “I think that I was giving us an opportunity to do something different. And I think the beach day event that we’re having to celebrate 50 Days is going to be a really good one.”