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Meeting Minutes

April 6th, 2009

  • Location: Sayles-Hill 251
  • Time: 8:30 pm
  • Present: Mai Fete hosts of the Class of 2009 and various members of the Senate
  • Guests: Julie Thornton, Lee Clark
  • Secretary: Hannah Lucal

Associate Dean Julie Thornton and Campus Activities Director Lee Clark expressed two primary goals for the discussion: to talk about planning for this term to ensure that Mai Fete remains a safe, responsible, and fun activity, and to talk about the future of Mai Fete and other campus events including alcohol.

Thornton and Clark look to develop a team of students to make changes for the future that don’t take away from the traditions of the school. The current agenda is to discuss only Spring Term 2009. Clark must sign for campus events involving alcohol and he needs to learn why events such as Mai Fete are necessary. He expressed concern about liability issues for the College.

Thornton and Clark would like host groups to contain six sober individuals who would each be responsible for different aspects of the Mai Fete experience. Three of those hosts would meet and plan with Thornton and Clark the week prior to the hosting. Carding is expected to take place at the entryway of the island, and two people should take on this job to make sure that no open containers are allowed on or off the island. Wristbands will be given to those who are 21 only. One important question is whether Mai Fete is for seniors only or if it’s for the entire student body. A limit of two kegs has been approved, and Thornton and Clark would like to discuss stopping all distribution of alcohol by 11pm, in line with campus Quiet Hours. Student hosts should be at the keg to distribute the beer and two people should monitor or “roam” the island to make sure all are safe.

Food and alternative beverages are supposed to be available on the island, and Thornton and Clark volunteered to provide ten Domino’s pizzas for every Wednesday night. Alternate beverages would be the responsibility of the students.

No sound amplification will be allowed after 10 pm. Everyone should be off the island by 11:30 pm. Portable lights were suggested to replace or add to the bonfire. Trashcans can be provided for cleanup and “party garbage” should not be overlooked as an issue.

Discussion was opened.

A student voiced that the focus of the concern seems to be legal issues, but emphasized that Mai Fete is not intended to be an unsafe activity. The hosts are extremely responsible. Mai Fete should be a school-wide activity open to all because it helps bond the seniors with the underclassmen. Students worry about the forces within the college pushing to change the alcohol policy – where it is coming from, where it’s going, and why it’s present at all.

Thornton responded that she doesn’t know where the push came from before she came to Carleton, but that currently the Attorney of the College is pushing to look at the alcohol policy.

A student wondered if the “two-keg” policy was negotiable. Vegetarian pizza should not be overlooked.

A student asked about the likelihood of a third party intervening, such as Bon Appetit.

Clark responded that in the case of a third party intervention, someone with a liquor license would be responsible for distributing liquor instead of students carding other students. In the case of an accident, students cannot be responsible for other students when alcohol is involved.

A student asked the implications of this third party in terms of other events, such as Rotblatt.

A student recognized that most students are interested in making Mai Fete a safe event, and that the idea of hosts “patrolling” or “roaming” is generally supported.

A student wondered about the expectations for the hosts in the case of an accident – if they would get in trouble. 

Thornton explained that the administration wants to work with the hosts, not against them. She hopes that if the situation goes badly, she can talk about it with the hosts, and doesn’t want there to be a feeling of hostility between the administration and the students. The specific expectations for the hosts will be further developed as the weeks go by.

A student asked about the liability issue.

The role of the hosts distributing beer would ensure that the students are of age to drink and are in a safe position to drink.

A student mentioned that in the past, the unsafe kids are those who come to the party already too drunk.

A student wondered about the distinction between adding a third party and students distributing alcohol.

Clark explained concern about a potential court case in which it would be necessary to prove that the College had done everything it could to prevent something dangerous to happen. At this point, the College is not following state or federal law. He feels the College is doing very little to prevent something bad from happening other than trusting the students.

A student mentioned that it’s important to have this dialogue with the administration to reiterate the plan, and felt that most students recognize that the College doesn’t want to get into a bad legal situation.

A student wondered if the Carleton Attorney had expressed any interest in meeting with students, or if there was an actual document the students could see about the concern over the policy. It was emphasized that numerous students would be happy to meet with the Attorney to reveal specifics of where the concern is coming from and to better understand what needs to change in order to make Mai Fete safest according to the College.

A student wondered if there was any discussion about making campus distributors of alcohol, not unlike campus drivers.

Thornton acknowledged that some schools do have liquor licenses for students.

Clark promised to do research on how this is done on other campuses, and assured that he will do whatever he can to make sure that the event will continue to happen as it does now in the future.

A student wondered what type of training could be involved for students to make the College less liable.

Thornton described that more meetings such as this one would help.  

A student made it clear that most are willing to do whatever it takes to keep Mai Fete in student hands, and not to involve a third party if possible (to find alternatives if necessary – be it training, etc). Student responsibility means a lot to the student body.

Students wondered if there were other people to talk to about avoiding third party intervention.

Clark explained that the administration doesn’t want an “us vs. them” mentality, and is committed to working with the student body.

A student mentioned that he has never seen alcohol distribution by a third party at other schools, even state schools. In his own experience, at some small liberal arts schools, there is intensive security (even an application process) to get a wristband or to get into a party. People go to hospitals more often at events where alcohol is not provided (Sayles Dances, Spring Concert, etc). The social atmosphere doesn’t refer to the atmosphere of drinking and being drunk, but to being in a community atmosphere. There is concern that the tradition is fading away specifically because traditions of the past have been destroyed.

A student expressed pride in the degree of trust between the Administration and the student body that exists at Carleton and that these empowering events (i.e. Mai Fete) are part of the uniqueness of Carleton.

A student clarified that by not allowing large events like this, the upperclassmen-to-lowerclassmen interaction of teaching peer responsibility is demolished.

A student wondered if there could be any resolution by the end of the meeting.

Thornton responded that the goal is to talk further and to review the Alcohol Policy.

A student emphasized that many students would like to be a part of the review process for the alcohol policy. If something could be produced in a written manner, it would be a lot easier for students to participate.

Thornton emphasized that they are dedicated to involving as many students as possible.

A student felt that comparisons of Carleton to St. Olaf should be made to reveal the benefits of Carleton’s current policy.

The discussion ended at 9:50 p.m.

For comments or corrections to the minutes, feel free to contact lucalh