The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) Executive Board voted Oct. 13 to cancel White Party (WP) this spring due to concerns about drug use often correlated with student attendance. ASCMC will use the $13,000 allocated for White Party to fund other spring events.
Executive Board members felt that the party has “transformed throughout recent years from an EDM [electronic dance music] event into a function of influence,” according to a statement released by the Executive Board on its website.
“Concern on behalf of ASCMC ballooned last year when it became clear that conversations leading up to the WP regarded drug use, to the extent of ubiquity, rather than the event itself,” the statement continued. “The proliferation of illicit substances at the WP has prejudiced social norms surrounding it and in so doing compelled, if not possibly coerced, students to either engage in the norm or be left out.”
CMC Dean of Students Mary Spellman wrote in an e-mail to TSL that she supports ASCMC’s decision.
“I support their decision and look forward to seeing what new and creative ideas they have for the remainder of the year,” she wrote.
“Students regularly have new ideas for events—sometimes an event will be held again,” she added. “For example, the Wedding [Party] was first held three years ago. Just because it was held one year or [even] two subsequent years doesn’t mean that ASCMC will always host a Wedding Party.”
Some students, however, expressed greater concern about the cancellation’s impact on CMC’s social scene.
“Canceling White Party makes sense if there’s a need for budget cuts,” Will Yandell CM ’14 said. “We can have a pretty similar party if we get a student DJ and a venue to do it in. What is a bummer, though, is that it’s just one more step in lessening the social scene here at CMC, especially after last year’s cancellation of 24-Hour Party.”
ASCMC’s decision to cancel White Party came after a campaign that students, including ASCMC leaders, initiated last spring to confront what they saw as a worsening social scene. Former ASCMC President Aditya Pai CM ’13 wrote an open letter to Spellman and Vice-President of Student Affairs Jefferson Huang expressing his concern that policy changes such as increased security fencing at parties were detrimental to the CMC social scene.
“The ‘social scene’ here is on everyone’s radar—everyone has a critique and a hope,” the Executive Board’s online statement read. “However, it must be regarded with some degree of circumspection.”
Students also voiced concerns that the decision to cancel White Party infringes on student autonomy.
“I’m afraid this will set a precedent for canceling other parties for being associated with ‘illicit substances,’” Austin Teece CM ’16 said. “Students should have the ability to be responsible in their own regard, and it would be a sign of trust in the student body if these decisions were left up to students themselves.”
He said the only difference he saw between White Party and any other party was that White Party was generally a bigger event.
Phillip Pennell CM ’16 agreed.
“There’s not a massive difference between White Party and any other party, except that everybody shows up and their drug use is out in public and more prevalent instead of being in their dorm rooms,” Pennell said. “If you’re doing these sorts of drugs, you’ll probably still be doing them at another party.”
“I’m honestly not too disappointed,” Christina Brandt CM ’14 said. “[White Party’s] theme wasn’t really my thing. However, I am pretty bummed by the fact that we’re losing such a large event which brings people together.”