General Assembly addresses Occidental party scene

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Occidental’s party scene took center stage at an Associated Students of Occidental (ASOC) General Assembly in Choi Auditorium Thursday. Topics ranged from the role of Campus Safety in addressing noise complaints, to the lack of programming offered on campus during the weekends, to the musical choices at campus events. Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life Tamara Himmelstein and Chief of Campus Safety Victor Clay answered questions and addressed concerns from the student body while members of the ASOC Senate participated in and moderated the conversation.

Students were dissatisfied with the role of Campus Safety in moderating off-campus parties. They felt that Campus Safety places too much emphasis on appeasing residents who issue noise complaints, instead of focusing on students’ needs.

“I feel like Oxy Campus Safety respects the residents more than the students…” Antoniqua Roberson (junior) said. “Oxy Campus Safety should back us up and be on our side in terms of complaints from the residents.”

Clay responded to these assertions by emphasizing the fine line Campus Safety walks between serving the students of Occidental and upholding the law. Clay noted that a large number of noise complaints about parties are legally valid, due to the city-wide noise ordinance that requires quiet from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“You put me in a hole that I can’t get out of,” Clay said. “It’s not about supporting Oxy students or not supporting Oxy students…. you think you have a right to party at volume 10 on Friday and Saturday night because you go here.”

Other topics of conversation included on-campus activities for students, with a consensus that there are few events for students to participate in on Friday and Saturday nights. Ashkan Mortazavi (sophomore) noted that this lack of programming encourages students to binge drink to “pregame” off-campus parties, and drink more in their residence halls when these parties are inevitably shut down.

It was suggested that providing more on-campus events to students could help regulate the noise of off-campus parties and provide an alternative to binge drinking. Junior ASOC Senator Abhilasha Bhola proposed an increase in on-campus dances to reduce the novelty of drinking excessively and contain noise to Occidental’s grounds.

“We’re all fed this idea about what college is supposed to belarge social gatherings, meeting lots of people and dancing,” Bhola said. “When I’m asking for more programming, I’m not asking for arts and crafts or a kegger on the Quad. We can have dances in the gym, in the Cooler. I feel like there are a lot of different solutions that aren’t being addressed.”

Both Himmelstein and Clay also spoke about eliminating music with potentially offensive terms from such events. Himmelstein cited the music played at The Drop, a dance held by the Black Student Alliance (BSA), as an example of inappropriate musical choices. According to Himmelstein, songs played at The Drop frequently included the N-word, which some students found offensive.

Some students argued that it is the responsibility of the offended group to take action when music is problematic, while others argued that it is better to remove all potentially offensive music from Occidental events.

“I think it’s interesting when certain people get offended it’s deemed valid, and when other people are it’s not,” Oby Okpalanma (junior) said. “Like the Ebola party. We’re told get over it, forgive, forget, move on.”

The assembly ended abruptly, with no conclusion on what music should and should not be played at parties. At the end of the assembly, there were still several hands in the air.

“I applaud ASOC for offering this topic. There’s still more to be discussed, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Himmelstein said after the assembly.