Columns / Discourse / October 30, 2013

Thoughts from the Embers: Party policy falls short

EmbersImagine this: It’s the year 2031, a dystopian future in which college students must have their weekend planned by the end of business hours on a Tuesday.

But that’s already the case at Knox.

With multiple fraternities dealing with social probation, and a long-awaited revision of outdated college policies relating to social life and events on campus, we urge the Offices of Student Development and Campus Life to take a critical look at these policies — keeping in mind accessibility and fairness for the entire student body.

For years, Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern has been reporting to the Student Life Committee that the college’s “social event” policy, which he described as “archaic” and in need of revision, will get a much-needed overhaul. Some sections of the policy date back to 1992, before most of the current student body was born.

Granted, last week’s Fall Institute Day included a session on the “Ins and Outs” of social events, a well-intentioned attempt at increasing students’ awareness of the policy on the books. But far from alleviating the problems, the mere fact that such a session was necessary underscores the major issue at hand — that the policy on social events ignores the reality of modern college life.

Fall Institute sessions are generally designed to help students consider new possibilities for major academic and life choices, like whether to study abroad or apply to graduate school. When planning major academic decisions shares a platform with making plans for the weekend, there must be a problem.

Students want to have a social life, but not all students are event planners. Those who wish to gather with some friends on the weekend should not be required to comply with a laundry list of housekeeping items such as “Registration, when required, is to be filed no later than the Tuesday preceding the event.” Should we be expected to spend precious time during the week planning such a gathering when that time would be better spent on academics?

We understand the logic of having these policies in place for fraternity-hosted parties that are open to campus, where risk management and safety are a concern. But these policies were written in a context of event planning that might take a period of days, not in a digital era when a few text messages over a period of minutes can constitute the entire planning process for a social gathering.

Students who are not affiliated with a particular campus organization and who prefer small group settings over larger parties should not be overburdened by the official planning process or constantly in fear that a non-college sanctioned “party” will be cut short by Campus Safety.

We urge the appropriate college administrators to promptly look into this issue and enact new policies accordingly — policies that are consistent with contemporary practices and culture.

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TKS Editorial Board

Tags:  associate dean of students Craig Southern fall institute office of student development registration social events social life Student Life Committee

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