Embrace the Nest Mess

The weekend before Spring Break saw the first test of the new Nest policies. I am told only a handful of students went. In fact, The Point News sent a photographer to cover the event and he captured an empty upper deck – a far cry from the 400 people who crowded into Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC) at the last nest.

I guess the new policy worked.

I understand the Nest is meant to be a substance-free event. And that’s great and there should be a substance-free alternative on campus. However, in the process of hosting a substance-free event, Programs Board discovered the immense popularity of a campus-wide dance party. In other words, an event, sponsored by Programs Board and paid for by our student fees, where a quarter of the campus consistently came.

Sounds like a win to me.

Yet, as soon as the event became popular, new rules came out to effectively kill the event. If the rules are purely in the name of maintaining the Nest as a substance-free event, fine. But then why hasn’t Programs Board developed a new non-substance-free event? I know I don’t care what the event is called.

Unfortunately, we all know the new policies come from the same mentality on alcohol consumption we have dealt with our entire lives. The mentality that says, “if we don’t talk about it and shame those who partake, maybe it will go away.”

The same mentality that drives high school and college students alike to drink in basements and under power lines and do stupid things like get in a car instead of calling for a ride. And, ironically, the same mentality that propagates the kind of binge drinking on this campus and campuses across the country that this same mentality hates.

Time for a new approach.

For the first time, we have a college President who wants to engage in a dialogue. As President Joseph Urgo said, “I share a number of concerns with presidents and chancellors who wish to reopen the debate on the drinking age.

I am concerned that we, as professionals responsible for the education of young adults, have created an atmosphere where students who choose to consume alcohol often do so in ways dangerous to their health.”

The new Nest policies only continue that atmosphere.

Instead, why not hold a campus-wide dance party and not ban intoxication? Use the event as an opportunity to engage in a dialogue. Not necessary at the event, though at this point we all listen to Pandora and watch Hulu and are use to 15-30 second interruptions in our entertainment for a commercials. Use the same approach, a drinking fact in between songs.

More importantly, use the event as a place where intoxicated college students can go safely have fun.

Drinking in college will not go away. Hiding, shunning and cracking down on it won’t do anything. Certainly with a substance-allowed dance party and a pub, SMCM will go so much further than any other college in having an honest conversation about the perils and, yes, pluses of drinking.


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