The mission of the Senior Class Program is “to foster and maintain contact among classmates before and after they leave Lawrence University.” One of the major events in the Senior Class Program is the Senior Dinner. With recent incidents and attitudes towards this specific event, administrative leaders have felt it necessary to make policy changes in order to reinforce the main goal of the program.
In recent years, following the Senior Dinner, many of the students visited the Viking Room, the campus bar, for drinks, and participated in the “senior streak.”
Over time, the tradition has become associated with the Senior Dinner, by some city residents as well as some campus faculty, the catering department, and students.
Andrea Powers, associate director of alumni relations, commented that specific events at last year’s dinner, when a student consumed too much alcohol and became sick, were not the only factors that contributed to the changes.
Powers noted that the “overall sense of things was out of control.”
School officials felt that the activities last year crossed the line and that changes needed to be made in the program.
Jan Quinlan, director of alumni relations, said that they had “hoped that [the dinner] would be an elegant event, [but] it has turned into something of the opposite.”
The situation was brought into perspective when the Appleton Police spoke with the 2003 senior class president about the details of the senior streak: when and where it would be taking place. It seemed that the community thought this event was linked to the Senior Program and that the university was condoning it.
That is not the case, according to school officials.
Quinlan and Powers have tried to make it clear that streaking is illegal and unsafe. The concerns about sexual harassment, special dieting for the streak, and excessive drinking beforehand were brought to their attention, and could not be allowed to continue.
Thus, at the request of President Rik Warch, a group of administrators was brought together to discuss the problem and offer recommendations.
The group comprised dean of faculty Kathy Murray, Quinlan, Powers, dean of students Nancy Truesdell, associate dean of campus activities Paul Shrode, director of the catering department Lynn Hagee, and Scott Radtke, therapist and alcohol education coordinator. The committee had three Lawrence alumni: Quinlan, ’74, Powers, ’94, and Hagee, ’58.
Through their meetings, they were able to present recommendations that were approved by the president’s staff. The solutions were outlined in a letter to all seniors on campus.
Senior Emma Sweet commented that she would be “disappointed if the tradition [of streaking] didn’t keep going,” but did note, “I wish that they didn’t serve alcohol at the dinner, because if [students] become rowdy they will be removed and the whole class will not be present at the dinner.”
Sweet also expressed her concern for “actions that the students might take in retaliation to the changes; [ones that] may be less controled.”
Powers and Quinlan gave their assurances of the zero-tolerance policy that will be exercised during and after the dinner. With the help of campus security and, if necessary, the Appleton Police, the situation will be kept under control.
Ormsby residence hall director and graduate in the class of 2002 Al Reiser expressed his view, saying, “The Viking Room is going to be closed because of the prior irresponsible drinking and over-consumption. The amount of alcohol that Lawrence was serving was too much for people.”
The university is taking steps, such as closing the VR, to reduce the consumption of alcohol the night of the class dinner, as it may be portrayed as condoning the public drunkenness and streaking that has been unintentionally linked to the dinner.
Quinlan and Powers expressed their “care for the seniors,” as they are both alumni and were seniors at one time, and want to make the Senior Class Program an enjoyable event for the whole class.
Both are willing to answer any questions and address any concerns of the students to further this wish.
As Quinlan put it, “I hope that in doing this, it will restore what will always be the Senior Dinner.