The Pitzer College administration has decided to ban drinking games on campus starting this semester. Pitzer students caught playing drinking games may face judicial sanctions.
“We had all the ingredients in place that led us to make the next logical step, which was that drinking games should be banned,” said new Pitzer Assistant Dean of Students Chris Brunelle.
Although there were a number of factors that contributed to the decision, Brunelle said, it is mainly aimed at protecting students’ health and safety and being in accordance with the kind of responsible drinking that Pitzer advocates.
“First and foremost,” he said, “the data and history led us to note that a good number of the students that have been transported from Pitzer [to the hospital] had been playing a drinking game that night.”
Brunelle also said that the Pitzer administration wanted to bring the Pitzer drinking code in line with the college’s values. Pitzer advocates a drinking atmosphere that is responsible, and by nature, drinking games do not encourage responsible drinking.
“Looking at the way drinking games are played, [it is apparent that] it also very much encourages binge drinking,” Brunelle said. “Looking at all these factors of what we’re trying to promote here in terms of a healthy, safe environment and for the collective community as well as the individual, drinking games just don’t fall in line with it.”
A number of Pitzer students recognized this inconsistency, and brought their concerns to the administration last year.
“Some students realized that what we’re trying to promote doesn’t match what we’re allowing,” said Brunelle.
The newly established ban is also a response to last year’s record high number of alcohol-related transports to the hospital. The majority of students who were transported had been playing a drinking game the evening they were taken to the hospital.
Despite the administration’s stance, many students have expressed unease about the ban.
One Pitzer student who wished to remain anonymous said that the ban will be difficult to enforce and expressed concern that the definition of “drinking games” was too vague.
According to the Pitzer Collehe Student Handbook, “games that are centered on alcohol, focus on drinking large quantities of alcohol, or promote irresponsible drinking are prohibited. Any devices or paraphernalia which aid in these games may be confiscated and will not be returned. These devices include, but are not limited to beer pong or ‘Beirut’ tables and beer bongs or funnels.”
Andrew Angeles PI ‘11 said that he understood where the administration was coming from but thought the policy would be difficult to enforce.
“I feel like the policy is well-intended to prevent excessive drinking; however, I don’t think it’s going to be effective in that area because it will be difficult to enforce and people are going to continue to play regardless [of the ban],” Angeles said. “By dragging it underground, if anything, you risk the possibility of making the problem worse, because if students do have too much to drink on a particular evening, they will be less prone to call for help because if they see this all as [a drinking game setup] they’ll think they’ll get in even more trouble.”
In response to student concerns, Brunelle said that Pitzer’s campus would be a much different place if the administration did not encourage responsible drinking. Brunelle said that at other institutions he has worked at with more liberal drinking codes, vandalism, violence, and substance abuse ran rampant. If Pitzer’s codes were looser than they are now, these issues might be as prevalent as they are at other institutions.
Students have recently created an ad hoc committee to discuss Pitzer’s and the 5Cs’ collective alcohol policy in more detail. According to the minutes sent out from the committee, it has been discussing conducting research before implementing an overarching alcohol policy.