SpringFest transports prove dance-ban policy ineffective

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Hats off to Programming Board (PB) for a very successful SpringFest. Apart from a few minor glitches, common at most events, the day ran smoothly. The massive turnout and enjoyment of the events demonstrate a need for more large-scale events, like dances.

Pre-gaming for SpringFest happens each year and this year, it resulted in two alcohol poisonings before the concert began. But this is not the fault of the PB or the students who worked very hard to host the event; rather, it is an indicator of an ineffective policy on dances.

The story is not new: The administration banned all dances after a few students were sent to the hospital for alcohol poisonings during October’s Toga dance. Rather than reflecting on how its punitive policies have contributed to the binge drinking culture, the administration instead decided to lay the blame at the feet of all students.

To do so is to treat all of the school’s students as children and also to judge and govern an entire student body based on its outliers. At Toga, there were six hospitalizations. That means .28 percent of Occidental’s student body made a poor decision that night. Thus, 2,117 students decided to act responsibly, either by abstaining from drinking or simply knowing their alcohol limits.

Staying true to their colors, administrators once again reverted to their usual belittling parenting techniques. Treating those 2,117 students like children creates a roundabout process similar to grounding or taking away a child’s toy. When parents take away their children’s toys, it does not cause the children to stop the behavior; rather, it makes them think about how to get away with it.

If the administration stops treating students like children, then students are more likely to act like adults. The administration has perpetuated a system of distrust that has become the norm of Occidental’s culture. Unfortunately, rather than acknowledging the issues at hand, administrators have dug in their heels and refused to reverse the dance moratorium.

By not listening, administrators are acting like parents who think they know everything. They should be looking for the reasons behind excessive drinking, not just snatching dances away.

By working with students to create a safer atmosphere for drinking, the administration would earn much more respect and foster a better environment at school events.

This punitive “take away” policy is outdated and verging on ridiculous. The administration has claimed, on numerous occasions, that it expects students to act maturely or that they are helping us to do so. Well, that is ironic, considering that they treat us like children every day.

To our benefit, the students are banding together to create a variety of events, like Groove at the Glen, that are fun to attend and do not revolve around drinking.

But to take away a majority of large, school-sponsored social events, especially when the administration has also cracked down on any and all partying, means that some students will go harder for the events that are still held and could possibly end up with alcohol poisonings.

Rather than continuing to ignore the blatant problem in front of them, administrators should try a more effective communication-based plan that paints students as functioning adults instead of children.

In doing so, they would actually solve the problem rather than just going around it.

Juliet Suess is a senior English and Comparative Literary Studies major. She can be reached at suess@oxy.edu or on Twitter @WklyJSuess.