Last Thursday afternoon, Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Brenda Ice hosted an open forum where she detailed a newly proposed plan regarding event registration on campus. The forum started in the Reslife conference room, but was moved to the common area of Curtis Hall due to massive turnout. After sharing the components of the new process, she accepted questions from students.
Rumors about changes to event registration began to circulate among students a few days prior to the forum. ResLife told the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate at their meeting last Tuesday night that as of March 18, there was to be a new event registration process that would require events to take place on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, have a guest list and allow a check-in by a “university official.” Over 100 Colgate students turned out to hear Ice explain the Dean of the College’s plans and to voice their thoughts and concerns.
“This is a Dean of the College initiative, this is not ResLife’s initiative, this is not my agenda, it is a Dean of the College proposal,” Ice said. “And in saying that, it is a proposal. While we have a draft of what we’d like the policy to look like, that doesn’t mean that will be the policy that will be enacted on March 18, which is our proposed start date.”
She began by addressing the event registration process currently in place, saying that it is paper-heavy and requires a great deal of training.
“You physically have to come over [to ResLife] to get your forms, get your signatures and then return them in a timely manner in the period of our office time,” Ice said. “The only training we provide as a part of our event registration process is ‘Tips Training’ and that typically only happens for those in Greek letter organizations.”
Ice further explained that pending approval, the request will receive a quick review by the ResLife office, and then the host will receive an electronic approval form to be printed out.
“All of that, not even worrying about what the policy says, is far too cumbersome for you, the student and me, the director,” Ice said. “So, part of the process in changing it is one – moving it to completely online. And in going online, we hope to reduce all of this foot traffic and concern about deadlines and missing 5 o’clock when we close versus a traditional 24 hours to get events in and get them approved.”
After announcing the change towards an online process, Ice went on to detail the new aspects of the proposed registration process.
“What we will be structuring is a three-tiered social opportunity,” Ice said. “There will be a private event, social event and then a catered event.”
Ice then explained how a private event is less than 50 people, typically just the residents or community at the location, with maybe a plus one. Because it is private and low key, it would require a guest list.
“It will recognize that we will train someone within the organization that has agreed to host the event on how to host a party responsibly, which includes distribution of alcohol to of-age attendees, which is different from our previous process,” Ice said.
The second tier, a social event, more than 50 attendees, is allowed to be advertised to more than the residents. Ice pointed out that for social events, no hard alcohol is permitted.
“As we talk about alcohol, it is beer and or wine, but no hard alcohol at all,” she said. “Hard alcohol has always been prohibited – that is staying, that is not anything new for anyone. It is just the distribution of beer or wine.”
The third tier is the catered system, which will stay the same as the university had established for large-scale, open events, particularly if they are going to be outside or a combination of indoor and outdoor.
Ice continued to explain the training that would now be required at each level of the tiers.
“The thing about training is once you go through it once you never have to go through it again,” Ice said. “Unless, you somehow violate a policy and we require you to go back through the training. If during any point during your event your event is shut down or we discover there was an infraction that we need to address, we will bring you back in and make the determination whether that’s just additional training that you’ll need or if you go on some sort of host-suspension for a period of time or having to go in front of a conduct board.”
After detailing the individual processes for the tiers, she shared a defining distinction of this new platform relative to the previous one.
“Currently in our model, we are emphasizing that registered events will only take place Thursday through Saturday,” Ice said.
When Ice concluded her explication, she made sure that students were aware the ideas presented were still being developed.
“As I’ve said before, it’s a draft,” Ice said. “It is not set in stone. The sessions that we created were for people to provide input, feedback about what makes sense, what they struggle with and recommendations that we need to consider before it goes live. What I will say is that we’re using the time from now until the end of spring break to gather all this feedback because we hope to launch this, either hard or soft, by March 18.”
Ice then accepted questions from the crowd of students. She made clear to point out that she would take notes on the questions students asked, but did not have answers to any of the questions unless they were specifically addressed by the details of the policy.
Colgate students began to ask questions regarding scheduling between Greek organizations during the week, addressing the exclusivity of the nature of events through the plan, speaking about how athletes are often unable to go out other than Mondays or Wednesdays due to 48-hour rule before competition, how the limitations on alcohol could encourage binge-drinking before events, and more.
“The working group that is working on this policy is comprised of faculty, staff and students,” Ice said mid-questions. “Faculty comments were such that the reason students are here should be academically focused to start, and so, this is a way to help ensure they were at least meeting that academic flow … again, this is not set in stone, we are taking recommendations and comments from students and administration and are working on this. Any concerns and issues that are proposed are being taken under advisement.”
Halfway through the question period, Ice commented on the general perception from the nature of the students concerns and thoughts.
“It looks like we’re going to have to have another forum that I can probably guarantee and I’ll probably have to bring some reinforcements,” Ice said.
When asked why the March 18 start-date for the new rules, Ice responded that it was set to give time for the process to be tested while students were on campus.
“We can certainly move the date back,” Ice said. “March 18th was initially set so that we would have at least some level of the spring semester to work through the kinks while we had students here as opposed to launching it over the summer when no one is here and hoping it works.”
Former President of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority senior Morgan Roth shared her insights and opinions on the newly proposed policies.
“The new plan, on top of it setting up an unrealistic set of rules, will make a very cliquey school even cliquier,” Roth said. “I am looking at the broader social implications, if parties are capped and have guest lists there will be a very restricted group of people allowed to each one. Colgate is already very divided and these types of restrictions will make it even more so. No one wants to see that happen, it would reflect poorly on the school and have negative repercussions for the student body.”
Former President of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity senior Ron Iazzetti felt that the open forum with students was productive.
“I thought the meeting overall went well,” Iazzetti said. “There was a huge turnout and resulted in the venue having to be switched. I think it shows how important social life is to the student body. During the meeting, someone asked if there were any non-affiliated students present, and no one raised their hand. I think there was a lot of negativity towards the proposal but that a lot of that was due to the general perception that the student body, particularly the students most invested in campus social life, were not an adequate part of the conversation in drawing up the proposal. Had Brenda Ice not presented the proposal at the Senate meeting, the vast majority of students would still not know that the administration planned on beginning to implement the proposal March 18. Brenda understood the students’ concerns and emphasized she would be telling the committee exactly what the students were saying in the forum.”
Izzaetti explained what specific aspects of the proposal should be altered to pertain more to the student body.
“Students should be allowed to balance their academic and social lives on their own terms,” Iazzetti said, regarding the Thursday through Friday proposal. “Time management is one of the most important life skills that we learn at college. The University shouldn’t be making those time management decisions for us.”
In regards to the University official walkthrough during events, Iazzetti felt that such interference would damage student-campus official relationships more so than they already are.
“Overall, I’d say that campus safety has a poor relationship with the student body,” Iazzetti said. “Because of the status of this relationship, I think it’d discourage the registration of events.”
Iazzetti also felt that the proposal reflected a larger divide between the Colgate community and the administrative figures seeking to enact this plan.
“The failure of the proposal to address drinking games shows the general disconnect between the administration and the student body,” Iazzetti said. “A policy of education and toleration of drinking games by the administration would be much more fruitful than the current prohibition and would be a step toward realistic event registration where policies would actually be followed. Bucknell and Kenyon have both reversed their drinking game bans after it became apparent they weren’t going to work.”
Contact Amanda Golden