Student organizations that regularly host parties at Pomona College have begun deciding on a week-by-week basis whether the Sagehen Café will sell beer and food at their events, causing the amount of refreshments for sale at parties to decline this semester.
Last semester, parties hosted by Pomona fraternities Sigma Tau and Kappa Delta began to include beer and food sales by the Sagehen Café, an independent food vendor operating from a permanent storefront in the Smith Campus Center. The sale of these items followed a proposal from Pomona’s Associate Dean Chris Waugh and had the support of both the Sagehen Café and the student organizations.
However, it soon became apparent that offering beer and food for sale in addition to the free kegs paid for by the Associated Students of Pomona College Alcohol Fund was less popular among student partygoers than initially expected.
“I think that students weren’t expecting to pay for anything, and I understand because that hasn’t been the culture of these events,” Waugh said. “We’re going to tweak the sales a little bit this semester and see how it goes.”
Sagehen Café General Manager Cheryl Yarck said that the sales were not bringing in desired profits due to a lack of demand from the students.
“We would sell 20 to 25 beers, and then the whole keg would go to waste,” she said.
The Sagehen Café is planning to continue selling beer this semester with the hope that students have become more accustomed to the sales and will be more willing to make purchases. However, the availability of food for purchase has recently been discontinued at Kappa Delta’s weekly PUB party.
This semester has also seen an increase in communication between the Sagehen Café and the student groups. Rather than simply offering beer for sale at each event, student organizations now have the ability to decide two weeks in advance whether or not they want priced refreshments to be available. This change gives student organizations the ability to assess whether they believe partygoers will want to purchase refreshments at a particular event.
Sigma Tau has taken advantage of the new option to temporarily stop offering priced refreshments through the Sagehen Café at The Boot party.
“People would finish the two kegs and, for the most part, wouldn’t buy the beers that they were offering,” Sigma Tau President Jeff Levere PO ’12 said. “They were also offering pizza, but they were charging two dollars a slice for Domino’s, and who’s going to pay two dollars for a Domino’s slice?”
Sigma Tau is planning to relocate The Boot from Dom’s Lounge to Pomona Hall’s outdoor courtyard after spring break. The Boot was hosted at this venue once last semester, which turned out to be quite popular, Levere said. Because they expect similarly high turnouts at The Boot later this semester, Sigma Tau members may choose to continue using the Sagehen Café for refreshment sales to supplement the ASPC-provided kegs, Levere said.
In addition to supporting beer sales through the Sagehen Café, Waugh is continuing to work with faculty and students to create more real-world drinking environments on campus. He hopes that this will encourage responsible drinking while lowering the incentive for students to arrive early to parties and drink quickly.
Waugh said other ideas that have been discussed among faculty and students include obtaining a Pomona liquor license, so alcohol sales would no longer have to go through the Sagehen Café, and retrofitting Dom’s Lounge with the mechanics necessary to turn it into a functioning pub.
“It’s not uncommon in a work setting when you will be talking with clients or colleagues in a social context [with alcohol],” he said. “So why not leverage the opportunities we have on campus to give students a taste of how that works?”