Editorial | Fall Gala is more of the same
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 08:09
There’s an old adage that says, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” This year, Programming Board is beautifying the pig that was Fall Ball by giving the event a new name, a new location and a new dress code.
The administration is optimistic that these changes will reduce the massive liability of inebriated Jumbos. But despite some positive first steps, such as holding the event earlier in the evening, the truth is that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of students.
While some students have been critical of the new event, changing the name and location doesn’t change what Fall Ball/Gala is at its heart: a school-sponsored welcome back party. This event serves the important function of uniting new students with old faces and generating enough school spirit to last us until Homecoming.
Along with Spring Fling and the dearly departed Winter Bash, students have historically used these events as an opportunity to over-imbibe. With eight students hospitalized during last year’s Fall Ball (not to the mention 12 the year before) and the notorious misconduct during Winter Bash 2013, alcohol abuse at school-sponsored events is certainly an underlying theme.
Students at Tufts and in colleges and universities across the country have proven that consumption of alcohol is a part of college culture — an issue that some schools are having a hard time addressing. Regardless of the good intentions of our administration, alcohol consumption may not change just because an event is earlier in the day or outside (see: Spring Fling).
There is some hope that the University’s recent implementation of a Good Samaritan alcohol policy will make this year’s fall event less dangerous, with fewer students worried about the consequences of seeking medical assistance for a friend. These small changes — from the alcohol policy, to the timing of the event, to the provision of food at last year’s events to help curb alcohol poisoning — are steps in the right direction. However, Programming Board and the administration need to understand that replacing events or tweaking their details will not change the drinking culture on campus. Removing events (remember NQR?) is also not a solution, but a step that will foster resentment from students who find themselves slowly being denied traditions that shape the Tufts experience.
Programming Board should instead focus on creating a safe environment for those students who are intoxicated. Communication, preparation and education are essential tools for combating excessive drinking, and it is worthwhile to note that overindulgence is not unique to Tufts. Plenty of universities are trying to address a drinking culture — or maybe a piece of American culture — that is heavily ingrained in their campuses. The solution isn’t as easy as denying students these types of events or repackaging an old tradition as a more demure outdoor event. It’s important to recognize that the steps that should be — and are being — taken by the university will ensure greater safety for the Tufts community.