OPINION: CMC students can change party culture

CMC student body president Josh Nagra CM ‘23 writes to his peers on the need to respect aspects of the college’s operations in order to maintain a positive cultural landscape. (Wendy Zhang • The Student Life)

At Claremont McKenna College, we are lucky to have one of the most liberal alcohol policies in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. 

As I conclude my term as CMC student body president, I am dedicated to maintaining an unwavering commitment to improvement and progress for our community.

I believe that the events we attend, the conversations we have, and the relationships we build all contribute to our overall college experience. Our social scene makes CMC unique and special, but it can also be challenging.

To change that social culture, we as students need to change too.

The Dean of Students (DOS) can change its policies, but we as a student body must make several cultural changes to create a sustainable, long-lasting, improved culture. The administration can facilitate social life reform, but this is only sustainable with student buy-in. So let’s start by exploring why we do the things we do and what values we hold as a community. 

We’ll begin with wristbands.

Wristbands play a crucial role in CMC events by allowing all students to participate in social gatherings and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. With events often costing thousands of dollars for food, drinks, security, decorations, and activities, wristbands ensure that ASCMC can prepare and provide for the student body. The wristband system eliminates a first come, first serve approach, ensuring no one is left waiting in line and missing out on festivities.

It’s crucial to understand that wristbands are not the cause of dangerous behavior at events. Instead, it’s the actions of individuals that pose a danger. 

Blaming the wristbands ignores the fundamental issue of student behavior and shifts the focus away from what truly needs to be addressed to a plastic inanimate object. 

Wristbands do not create exclusivity. Capacity is determined by available space and resources, regardless of whether a wristband system or a first-come, first-serve model is used. The use of wristbands does not alter the principle of capacity limitation. 

All CMC students are guaranteed a wristband, as the system has been in place for years, even before the coronavirus pandemic, to create a positive student experience and foster a strong sense of community. While wristbands may inconvenience your fit, they are necessary to sustain a happy, healthy, and safe CMC community.

Another critical step to changing the social culture is to maintain ID checks. The college ID check at the door of events serves as a uniform, equitable and quick way of keeping events secure. 

In the past, members of the surrounding community have threatened ASCMC events. Pre-pandemic, for example, nine phones were stolen at one Thursday Night Club (TNC) event. At last year’s Quantum event, an older couple entered the event and made multiple people uncomfortable.

Using college IDs ensures that everyone who enters the event is part of the 5C community. An exception to the ID rule, relying on alternative forms of proof for attending the 5Cs, would result in a backlog at the entrance, slowing down the process, making it easier to fake and creating too much complexity with a lot of gray areas. 

The college ID card is something we all use daily to get into buildings, dining halls and our rooms, making it a uniform and equitable system that we are already familiar with. While it may be tough to remember to bring your ID, a gentle reminder from friends can’t hurt. 

What goes on during an event has an impact on the social culture as well. 

At CMC, we strive to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. However, only some come to college with knowledge and experience with substances, partying and their limits. 

That’s why, while ASCMC events will serve alcohol, we limit it to beer, seltzer, wine and champagne to provide a safe, on-campus and transparent way to participate. 

Although 200 White Claws can disappear quickly, we are working to find ways to make sure there’s enough to go around. We always look to improve our policies and practices to serve our community better.

A critical way that we as a student body can further adjust our behavior to improve the social culture is through our relationship with the DOS. 

Kindness goes both ways.

As has been the case at CMC, an open social culture between DOS and students promotes transparency when situations become dangerous. This shows a rare patience and understanding we are lucky to experience. We are all trying to make the best of our transient existence here. 

Saturday nights are often given up by DOS staff from their families so that they can ensure that our events run smoothly. They are dedicated to providing that our campus is safe and inclusive for all students. They do not get paid for these extra hours. 

We can all take accountability for our actions and strive towards open, honest and kind interactions with each other.

While the administration has shut down events, we recognize that not all events are the same. A hard capacity limit of 100 people doesn’t make sense for smaller events. 

These smaller events can create strong social bonds, a crucial value of our culture. It is okay to acknowledge that some of the rules we encounter from the administration are unjustified. Discussions and pushback like that of the Senate last Monday are critical to our shared investment in the CMC community. Personal circumstances come with responsibility.

It’s not just the students or the DOS that need to change. It’s both of us. 

As the last class to experience pre-pandemic life at 5C departs in a few months, the cultural landscape may change. Still, our responsibility is to embrace these changes and strive toward a brighter future that transcends our differences. 

Yes, collective action seems far from reach, but these challenging steps can lead to effective, enduring change. 

Josh Nagra CMC ’24 is from Pleasanton, California. He likes biology, raccoons, and EDM.

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