Transports Prompt Alcohol Suspension

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

If you didn't see them, you heard them. Anywhere in the vicinity of Pomona College's South Campus on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 10, it was hard to miss the ambulances near Marston Quadrangle, sirens blaring, with a large crowd gathering around the commotion. Two days later, Pomona students received an email from Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum outlining the events of Wednesday night. According to that email, three students were transported to a nearby hospital as a result of alcohol consumption but are currently in stable conditions, with no known lasting harm. In response, the college suspended midweek (Sunday to Wednesday) registered alcohol-serving events indefinitely. "Three alcohol transports in one night speaks to a larger substance culture and patterns of binge drinking that we need to address," Feldblum wrote in the email. The transports occurred during Pub, a weekly party hosted by the fraternity Kappa Delta on Wednesday nights in Doms Lounge at Pomona. Feldblum said that there has been a continuous problem with excessive binge drinking at Pomona, especially during the middle of the week. She cited a study conducted by Everfi, the company that created the online sexual assault education program Haven, which was used at all five Claremont Colleges for the first time this year. The study found midweek drinking to be a particular issue at Pomona; Pomona's rate of binge drinking regularly eclipsed both the national and Claremont Consortium averages on Wednesdays. The suspension is not unprecedented, Feldblum said. "Last fall, because of other issues, we actually had a suspension of Pub," Feldblum said, referring to a suspension announced in light of a reported incident of sexual assault. "In actuality, there was a decrease in alcohol transports." Registered midweek alcohol-serving events will be suspended for the fall semester while the Social Life Council, a branch of the Associated Students of Pomona College, works with joint faculty-staff-student committees such as the Alcohol Working Group to create a long-term plan for addressing binge drinking at Pomona. Student reactions to the suspension have been varied. President of Pomona Vino Emily Glass PO '15 said that she supports the administration's effort to provoke a dialogue about these issues even though Vino, a wine tasting hosted by the wine club every Monday, has been suspended as a midweek registered alcohol event. "We are surrounded by extremely intelligent people," Glass said. "I would hope that in the next eight weeks, all these intelligent minds could take some time to reflect and just think about how they act when they go out, when they drink alcohol. And if every one of us did, I think the ban would be removed. But it's a communal effort; it has to be a communal effort." Senan Hogan Hennessy PO '18 viewed the decision as futile and merely symbolic. "Is it supposed to be morally wrong for me to drink some alcohol in the middle of the week?" Hennessy asked. "I think it's more of a PR move than anything. The idea is a bit flawed in that if you are under the age of 21, you are not getting alcohol from these parties anyway." Kent Shikama PO '18, on the other hand, supported the administration's decision. "If [the suspension] keeps students safe, then there is only good that can come of it," Shikama said. Feldblum, Glass and other students echoed a common refrain that the ban is not intended to be punitive but rather a step toward improving Pomona's social scene. "If you go into Pub, you'll see signs on the wall about consent," Glass said. "However, on Facebook events, there'll be a verbose description that doesn't align with the signs of creating a safe space. That's not to say they say 'create a dangerous space,' but these Facebook events enlist a type of behavior. To change the culture, the signs on the wall in Doms have to match the event posts on Facebook, have to match our interactions with other people, have to match our interactions with ourselves."

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