Last Tuesday, Pomona students held an open forum to discuss the school’s mid-week alcohol suspension policy and its effects. This policy was enacted last September in response to three student transports following Pub, a Wednesday night party at Dom’s Lounge thrown by the Pomona fraternity Kappa Delta. In an email sent to the student body following the event, Pomona Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum stated, “three alcohol transports in one night speaks to a larger substance culture and patterns of binge drinking that we need to address.” In the same email, she wrote that serving alcoholic beverages at registered events from Sunday to Monday would no longer be allowed.
Since Pomona is a dry campus, the suspension only affects students 21 and over. However, although the ban only directly affects a small segment of Pomona’s student body, it has had a substantial impact on the mid-week party scene as a whole.
The policy mainly affects Table Manners, an event held during the week on Tuesday nights at Pomona that has a dance-party vibe while simultaneously encouraging artistic expression. One certain consequence of the mid-week alcohol suspension is that events have begun to heat up later in the night. Whereas in the past Table Manners was packed at around 11, now people only begin to trickle in at that time.
Some members of the open forum proclaimed that students have come to Table Manners more drunk and belligerent than in the past, and that this might be in part because they are pre-gaming in their rooms instead of drinking from the keg at the party. Another student even expressed the sentiment that “Pomona’s identify has shifted,” and that it is losing touch with what she came to Pomona for. Primarily, this student meant that the Pomona administration has changed mindsets from understanding the benefits of providing a safe place to drink to no longer acknowledging those advantages. However, others thought that this was not accurate in general. In addition, they also contended that mid-week drunken behavior has actually decreased or stayed relatively the same since the policy was enacted.
Regardless, one thing is certain: the number of mid-week transports has decreased substantially. Pomona’s mid-week alcohol use — especially on Wednesdays, when Pub is held — before the suspension hovered above the national average, according to a study by EverFi, but has recently dipped closer to the norm for college campuses. In a Facebook group for fans of Table Manners, some 5C students and alumni expressed concern that the discussion of “mid-week” alcohol use was problematic in suggesting that the problems that arise at Pub on Wednesday nights apply just the same to Table Manners on Tuesdays. Those who frequent Table Manners felt that the Tuesday night event provides an important alternative to other 5C parties and the risks of over-drinking at Pub are not present at Table Manners.
One of the primary priorities for students at the forum was to preserve some form of artistic expression in mid-week events. In addition, they emphasized the importance of ensuring that drinking does not become the focal point of any event or the party scene in general.