Administration Considers Changes to Sendoff, Party Policy
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Summer Sendoff: most Kenyon students would agree that it is one of the most enjoyable days of the year. But it is also inarguably one of the drunkest — a full day of drinking on South Quad, followed by an evening dancing to an expensive band. But all of that might change soon. In recent years, the excesses of Sendoff have caused concern among administrators. According to Tacci Smith, associate dean of students, "We're doing the review of the party policy and that's where a lot of the conversations started about Sendoff because as we look at the party policy … we realize that Sendoff is a day [when] we don't work within the party policy much at all." Although the alcohol-free zone in front of Ransom Lawn remains controlled, the South Quad, where most of the drinking occurs during Sendoff, has become a problem, according to Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo and President S. Georgia Nugent.
"The whole thing is just a free-for-all. It is an instance where we just kind of look the other way and on the whole that's not a good thing," Nugent said. Mastrangelo, who is new to Kenyon this year, said her impression of Sendoff is that "there is a ‘free-for-all' mentality regarding alcohol use during Sendoff … the drinking behaviors of the day are resulting in lower attendance at Sendoff and taking away from what Sendoff is truly about."
"A lot of times South Quad feels like each group has a section and clearly people are floating around, but it sometimes feels like there are almost mini parties happening within the main lawn," Smith said. She emphasized that the main concern is security on South Quad. "If this is the way we like it and we want to keep it, then how do we make sure that safety is going on?"
Smith, Mastrangelo and Dean of Students Hank Toutain have met in recent weeks with students on Social Board to discuss the changes to the party policy and potential changes to Sendoff. A main question has been the College's liability toward the heavy drinking that occurs on South Quad. "Sendoff isn't this horrible day of millions of people going to the hospital, but there is this day of binge drinking. The conversation has been: how can Sendoff be fun and do the things it's supposed to do?" Smith said. According to Mastrangelo, "Administrators from Student Affairs are meeting with students, organizations and the party policy committee to examine the event, in general, and how we can make it safer. Rather than applying the party policy as is, we are exploring the possibility of a policy specific to Sendoff and outdoor events similar in nature."
Students have expressed reservations about changing the policy towards Sendoff this year, especially in light of the changes that will go into effect next year. "It feels like because we are going to make changes to the party policy that will go into effect next year, there's a conversation about whether we wait and do everything under that new part for next year," Smith said. "I suggested that to Social Board and some of the Greek leaders because they are the ones that throw the majority of the parties and know the party policy very well. Is there something we could try to do during this year's Sendoff, almost as a trial basis for the party policy?"
Sendoff is different from normal events sanctioned under the party policy because most, if not all, of the drinking happens outside. While the administration, Social Board and other organizations have some experience with outdoor events involving alcohol, the scale of Sendoff makes it a very different situation. "Bexley [Apartments] has tried to throw a block party the last several years. Out of the four years that we've done it, in this policy, one year has been good — I wouldn't even say great. The other three have kind of been horrible and gotten out of hand and shut down," Smith said. "The same thing [happens] with Aclands and how that spills out onto the lawn and into the street. The policy we have is pretty decent when you do Old Kenyon lounges or Weaver [Cottage]. But it doesn't work as well for outdoor [events]." Smith has suggested creating an outdoor policy for parties on a smaller scale, such as the ones at Acland Apartments, and adapting that policy on a large scale for Sendoff. Specific changes, however, are still forthcoming.
Another major concern at Sendoff has been funding. While the Ransom Lawn activities are funded by the Budget and Finance Committee and the ODADAS grant from the State of Ohio, these resources stipulate that only alcohol-free events can be hosted using their funds. There have been discussions about moving all the events to South Quad, where, historically, they were always held. "We've done some research into when [Sendoff] first started. [Just] 25 or 30 years ago, it happened on South Quad … with games, fun competitions, music and food," Smith said. "I suggested … a throwback to the original and we'll do it all in one space." In this case, however, the liability increases regarding underage drinking, and new controls and security have to be established. Smith is optimistic, however. "Maybe there's a bar set up, or it's done through AVI or students who have gone through the training as bartenders … some schools call it a beer garden," she said. "There [are] lots of options; we're just getting started."
Questions of funding also arise when considering the Sendoff band. Many students spend all day on South Quad, drinking and socializing, and never see the band, which costs up to $23,000 to book. "I've been here seven years and one of the things I noticed was there are some students who hang out on the lawn all day and never come down to Ransom Lawn, or they only come down to hear the band," Smith said. "You're all spending a lot of your Student Activities money on this one day and in reality, the amount of people that attend and come and really enjoy it fully is really small."