Staff Editorial: Creating a safer social environment on campus

At Lawrence, there seems to be a social divide between students who enjoy drinking and partying, and those who do not. In addition, students do not always feel safe in environments where alcohol is present due to the amount of binge-drinking that occurs on the weekends. In order to create a social environment where students feel comfortable and satisfied with their hangout options on the weekend, we would like to provide two potential solutions to these issues.

Firstly, Lawrence would benefit from the addition of campus-sponsored parties. While there are a variety of substance-free activities available for students throughout the week, the type of activities sponsored by campus resources are set in more laid-back, quiet environments aimed at more introverted personality types. Movies at midnight or Saturday Night Late are great programs for students that want to relax, but not always for those who need a way to burn off some energy.

The choice to consume or not consume alcohol is not a direct indicator of what types of activities students with to enjoy. Even though someone does not wish to drink, they may still have interest in dancing at a party held in one of the group houses and chatting with their peers. While clubs like Lawrence University Swing Dance host themed dances, not everyone wants to learn a specific dance style, either.

Unfortunately, not all students feel safe within these spaces due to the excessive amount of drinking that takes place within them. And even though Campus Safety is always around in case of a conflict, it seems as though Campus Life turns a blind eye away from the fact that so many drinking parties occur.

Creating campus-sponsored events that mirror parties held within the dorms and group houses on campus could help to provide students with a more active outlet on the weekends. Dances such as the President’s Ball and Lawrence International formals are typically well attended, but hosted infrequently.

Secondly, it is our hope that a system can be put in place that would allow more honesty between administration and students about when and where alcohol is present. When registering a party, students need to state whether it will include alcohol or not. In the case of a party with alcohol present, students who plan on drinking are to be carded and wrist-banded. However, when is this actually practiced on campus? When drinking occurs at parties, there is a lack of honesty between students and staff about when alcohol will be present. Despite how frequently students are dishonest about whether the party will contain alcohol or not, there has been no systematic change to alter the pattern of dishonesty about its use.

A system that allows more transparency between students and administration about the use of alcohol during parties may be tricky to achieve due to our country’s drinking laws. It is also important to keep in mind that the reason that this is a problem on campus is that students are not completely honest when they will be including alcohol so as not to create more work for themselves or exclude underage students. However, reflecting on our current system to allow for more communication could have a positive effect on students’ attitudes about drinking and potentially create a safer environment.

Our hope is that between a more direct system of communication about drinking parties on campus and the inclusion of more alcohol-free dance or party-like settings, students will both stay safe and feel comfortable at our university’s available social events.