Carleton’s alcohol policy is a hot topic of discussion on campus, but according to Director of Campus Activities Lee Clark, nothing will change this year, including policies regarding seventh weekend’s Rotblatt softball game.
“The perception that the college is doing away with alcohol is untrue,” Clark said. “I can say with complete certainty that I have not met a single administrator on campus who wants this to be a dry campus.”
Rumors circulating last term that the school was considering, among other things, getting rid of Rotblatt and requiring students to buy kegs through Bon Appetit, were not based on fact, Clark said. But they’ve caused a drastic decrease in school-registered outdoor events with alcohol.
At this time last year, according to Clark, there were three to four registered events per week, but so far this term, only one event has been registered, largely because students assume the school’s policy has been changed.
“My biggest concern is that students aren’t registering events,” Clark said. “It’s a wet campus, and we want to keep it that way, but we need to be able to meet with people so they have the tools” to deal with problems that might arise.
A party at Council Ring in the Arboretum was broken up Wednesday night because it was not registered with Campus Activities. The purpose of registering is to make sure students hosting events are aware of liability issues and have in place a system for preventing underage drinking, and in return, they receive college resources for their events.
As a registered event, Rotblatt is subject to the same alcohol stipulations and receives help with securing food, facilities and occasional funding. Clark’s main concern with this year’s 134-inning event is its reputation as one of the country’s oldest drinking games, as ESPN reportedly called it.
“The college has a policy about no drinking games,” Clark said. “I can’t back something that calls itself a drinking game. What I want to do is just make sure it’s safe and fun. Nothing has changed as far as how that will go down.”
While alcohol will still be distributed student-to-student — a system Clark says few colleges in the nation still allow — and no administrators will be present, this year’s five student organizers are trying to change the event’s reputation by emphasizing the non-alcoholic aspects of the game.
“The alcohol at Rotblatt is a part of it. It’s definitely not the whole,” organizer Colin Jenks ’10 said. “There’s so much more to Rotblatt than just drinking beer. Hopefully the tradition and the game is something Carleton will never lose.”
On Wednesday night, a Town Hall meeting on alcohol at Carleton allowed students to express their concerns about school policies and Carleton’s alcohol culture.
“They had some great questions that we couldn’t answer on the spot,” Clark said. “Of the nine colleges I’ve worked at, I’ve never seen a group of students that have such a big concern.”
The college has also formed a committee on alcohol use with five students and six staff members representing Campus Activities, Residential Life, the Office of Intercultural Life, the Dean of Students’ Office and Disability Services that will examine Carleton’s opportunities for alcohol education and support, student practices and attitudes and school traditions which include alcohol.
A big issue with the current climate isn’t policy itself, but enforcement of that policy.
“One of the problems is that some students have realized that some actions there’s no consequence for, so why register your event?” Clark said.
The school’s allowance of student-distributed alcohol from shared containers will also “definitely be discussed,” Clark said. “It may be working perfectly here, or it may not. Whether or not the group thinks it should change will be seen.”
The committee will meet once a week throughout the term and is expected to make recommendations to Dean of Students Hudlin Wagner by the end of the school year.
“If there were a change of policy, it wouldn’t be coming from this office,” Clark said of Campus Activities. “We have our marching order from the Dean of Students’ Office.”