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Editorial | Winter Bash behavior merits serious reflection

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02

The description in Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman’s op−ed of widespread student misconduct at Winter Bash—attendees urinating in the lobby of the Westin Copley Place Boston Hotel, vomiting on the floor, acting rudely toward hotel and university staff and, according to Reitman, requiring hospital treatment for intoxication — is appalling and unbecoming of the Tufts community.

Winter Bash is intended as a welcome diversion from classes, to usher in the new semester as a collective group outside the confines of campus, and to do so in style. This year’s event, despite the vast majority of students who enjoyed themselves responsibly, was anything but. Changes are desperately needed and, apparently and rightfully, imminent. Though it’s convenient to place the blame squarely on the students, whose shortcomings were most noticeable and quantifiable, to do so simply overlooks the larger systemic problems in the event’s conception and the drinking culture surrounding it that have led to perpetual issues year after year.

This year’s Winter Bash is reflective of a larger culture of irresponsible drinking habits. They’re not necessarily unique to Tufts, but they are certainly alive and well on this campus. There’s no doubt that addressing alcohol abuse and its excessive consumption, either through classes, seminars or among friends, has its merits. It isn’t an unreasonable request to hold ourselves to a higher standard, have the good judgment to refrain from becoming so obscenely drunk as to forgo all notions of acceptable behavior, and represent Tufts in a positive light off campus.

The idea of incentivizing alcohol consumption by bussing students to a massive party off campus is a recipe for disaster. The University’s expectations were clearly set low to begin with, as event administrators anticipated drinking−related issues by calling for additional ambulances for intoxicated students at this year’s Winter Bash.

Yet, actions like these only sweep the underlying problems under the rug, pushing them back until the next time. The problem isn’t alcohol consumption so much as it is a small group of people who abuse it. What this most recent stain on our reputation should warrant, if nothing else, is a comprehensive review of both logistical and moral concerns regarding Winter Bash and events of this nature. Because our proven track record of misconduct at both on−campus and off−campus school−sponsored parties, the purpose of such events should absolutely be reconsidered.

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