Senior Dinner crackdown: Traditions and ideals in danger

As a Lawrence alumna, I have always taken pride in the liberal-minded nature of my alma mater. In recent weeks, however, my pride has begun to diminish. Upon discovering that the administration would be forbidding all indoor smoking on campus, I was disappointed, but not surprised. This was simply the next step in the battle against smokers’ rights, both on campus and in the country at large.

Later, when I read that the administration would be cracking down on the revelry associated with Senior Dinner, I was appalled. This policy will completely change the tone of the event, which has been one of the most memorable nights in the college careers of many Lawrentians.

Senior Dinner should be a light-hearted event during which students and faculty can eat, drink, and socialize together. By closing the VR on this evening, the social element will be cut short significantly.

Seniors will only have the opportunity to interact with the faculty member with whom they are seated. This punishes both the students and faculty.

Senior Streak is one of the traditions that make Lawrence truly unique, particularly because of the tolerance with which the entire faculty and staff has viewed the event. More authoritarian schools would have outlawed such a celebration long ago.

The claim that banning the streak would prevent dieting problems is absurd: People who are self-conscious about their bodies will naturally opt out of streaking. If anything, seeing (or being a part of) a crowd of naked people would make an individual feel less insecure about his or her body because people of all body types participate.

Although I understand that the university has the well-being of the students in mind, the elimination of free alcohol and the streak will not prevent harm. Rather, the bans will force drinking and streaking underground. Did we learn nothing from Prohibition?

Among Lawrence’s ideals are broadmindedness and nonconformity, in the liberal arts tradition. I had believed that the school’s policies largely adhered to these ideals. In deciding to condemn the spontaneity and enthusiasm of Senior Dinner, however, Lawrence is putting appearances above principles.

For the sake of all current and future Lawrentians, as well as the faculty, I hope that the administration seriously rethinks its decision. It would be a shame if the Lawrence campus continues its trend toward authoritarianism and away from Difference.

Melanie Kehoss, 2002