Posted by the Editorial Board
Appropriately, some fright is in the air this Halloween. After last year's Moorebid Ball ended early in a flood of ambulance calls, the college has spent a year making sure future events are safer.
The changes made this year are to prevent the excess drinking that ruined last year's ball. Most significantly, the dance has been moved from Case Center to the Rec and Dance gyms in the Williamson Sports Center, and reentry will not be allowed.
The change in venue makes it easier for Campus Safety to monitor students as they enter, preventing students from sneaking in concealed alcohol, and catching excessively inebriated individuals at the door before they disappear onto the dance floor. This will create what Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun hopefully calls a "safe environment:" one in which the flow of people and consumption of alcohol are under control.
While the true effectiveness of these measures will have to be judged on Saturday, it is uncertain that they will dissolve the annual fog of drunkenness that passes over campus every Halloween.
The college's plan to police containers and bar re-entry has the potential to backfire. Students – underage or not – looking to get drunk for Moorebid can still do so. Without the option to leave for more alcohol, students may feel the pressure to go hard and fast in anticipation of being cut off once they enter the gym. And since most of the drinking occurred off-site last year anyway (less than half of the hospital-bound students were picked up at Case Center), this policy seems off-target.
It also remains to be seen how the new Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) policy will be put into action during this event. While Calhoun was quick to point out that the AOD policy was not changed directly as a result of last year's Moorebid debacle, it would be naïve to imagine that the policy changes were not designed with this year's event in mind. We will have to wait and see what the administration envisions in terms of punishing the offenses which will likely end up on display.
The policy's point system includes the new violations "Public Intoxication" (two points), and, more to the point, "Public intoxication at any academic or social event sponsored by Skidmore" (three points). It remains unclear to what degree these policies will be enforced at large events like Moorebid, but with 10 accumulated points resulting in a student's review for suspension, such offenses are precarious to casually intoxicated attendees, even those over 21.
Furthermore, the revised AOD policy includes a controversial "association rule" that assigns a Level I violation to anyone found in the presence of alcohol, regardless of whether the individual is drinking. As discussed in a previous editorial, this clause, even given its "free pass" for first offense, potentially conflicts with the school's amnesty policy that ensures that a student making a positive decision – calling Campus Safety or similar when another student is in need – will not be penalized for their friends' or their own consumption.
While the nine ambulances called last year made for a disaster, all nine of the students made it out alive, something that may not have happened had their peers not made the calls. While Campus Safety will undoubtedly be selective in their write-ups, a clarified system would alleviate concern that students looking out for their peers will be penalized.
What happened last year put our college on the national stage in a way that damaged our institutional reputation, something in which every student at this school should feel invested. While the college's reaction could use some refinement, the truth is that we students are the real victims of Moorebid 2010. We have the most to lose from a redux. It was our friends and acquaintances who faced an evening of pumped stomachs and miserable sickness.
Luckily, it is also well within our power to refute these expectations and prove that we are capable of having fun and drinking responsibly without ambulances and vandalism.