Q & A with Yohei Nakajima
The following is from an interview with Yohei Nakajima, Social Affairs Committee Chair of the ASCMC. Yohei, last week CMC held no sponsored parties. We all understand that you need a break from throwing events and that there has been an increase in alcohol-related incidents at CMC. Is there anything else you can tell us in terms of what to expect in the future and what really happened?
Recently, the Dean of Students' office told us there were a few issues we needed to deal with. We started discussing those issues and were unable to reach a solution in time, which is why last week's parties were canceled. Fortunately, we had a meeting last Friday discussing each issue and changes that needed to happen. We came up with a few changes. We're going to start implementing those and bringing back parties this weekend.
What are the changes?
Well, it's a lot and not all of it is clear at this point. For one thing, we have to register our parties with the school differently. [Parties have to be registered at least two weeks in advance with details such as the number of attendees. The regulations for a registered party are correlated with the estimated attendance of the event.] We've always registered TNCs as a 100-person event because we used to get about 100-150 people at each one. The average TNC attracts about 300 people now, sometimes more. We're going to start making changes reflecting that.
We will have more security to keep non-affiliates out. We've always had fenced off parties once in a while and they've been great—it's just that they're all going to be like that which will be different.
Additionally, there are a lot of parties, like the 24 Hour Party, that people expect to happen that are looking very iffy right now. The DOS is against having a 24 Hour Party at this point. We will continue to talk to them. We're doing our best to keep the same fun continuing.
To what do you attribute the increase in attendance at CMC's parties?
I think there is a misperception that people are more out of control than in the past—that is just not true. There have been more reported alcohol-related incidents this year than in the past, but we've also had many more attendees at each event. So proportionally, alcohol-related incidents are probably not more prevalent than in the past.
As for parties in general, there's been a lot less intercampus partying over the last couple years. We try to pick up the slack at CMC, which causes problems. My freshman year I went to a lot of Pomona and Mudd 5C parties. I think people still go to Mudd but not Pomona.
Why is that?
I think our parties are just a lot better (laughs). Also, maybe people are used to our parties and don't want to go other places. I think Mudd has some crazy parties and they put a lot more effort into them than even we do, but our parties have just as many people now.
Is there anything CMCers need to do to help the current party situation?
We want CMC students to keep doing the same thing, but watch out for non-CMCers more. For example, if a Scripps student comes here and has an alcohol-related problem, the parents call the Scripps administration who calls the CMC administration, and that's hard to deal with. (If you have a friend visiting, whether it be from the other 4Cs or from further away, I want CMCers to realize that they have to be responsible for their friends actions.
Have you thought about charging other schools for parties like our TNC? Something like requiring non-CMCers to pay $3 at each party?
Haha, that'd be awesome. We can't do that though, it has to do with our rules.
Every CMCer knows your name—the Party Inform is the one weekly digest e-mail students anticipate all week and hold dearly when they receive it. Some people even print it out and hang it on their wall. Who writes the Party Inform? How early in the week do you know what will be in it? What is the process involved each week?
(Laughs) People actually put it on their walls? Well, TNCs are thrown by dorm presidents. Sam Stecker, the Dorm Affairs Committee Chair, is in charge of rotating which dorm throws that week's TNC. Sometimes multiple dorms help out. Fridays are often uneventful, but CMC usually has non-alcoholic events like movie night. I often feel like Saturdays are my responsibility, so unless another school is throwing a party I throw one at CMC or find someone to throw one with me.
I meet with the Social Affairs Committee Chair from the other colleges every Sunday and discuss the upcoming weekend. In general, we try to plan as far ahead as possible. If there is an open Saturday, CMC always ends up picking it up and hosting a party. The other schools don't make sure they have a party every Saturday. That's another reason we have had a hard time—we always make sure there's something going on.
As for the other events, anybody who wants an event to be in the Party Inform sends me an email by midnight on Wednesday.
How much planning goes into each event?
The bigger the event, the earlier you'd like to plan ahead. We have to register smaller parties two days in advance and larger parties two weeks in advance. The hardest part is the brainstorming. We—a group of people consisting of dorm presidents and other involved parties—sit around and talk about what we want to do. In the days leading up to the party, we spend a few hours shopping every day to go buy the decorations, beverages, and whatever else we need (cups, etc.). The day of a party, the people involved in throwing the party usually end up spending the entire day on that event.
How much does all this cost?
The cheaper parties float around $300, most of it for decorations, beverages and cups. Bigger parties on Saturdays like the Toga Party can go up to $1,000 or more. A lot of that is security and fencing. Security is especially expensive, as you can imagine. The new rules we are discussing with the DOS will make TNCs cost twice as much.
Where does the money come from?
All of it comes from the ASCMC from SAC, DAC, Senate, dorm funds, etc. It's all money allocated from the ASCMC from student membership fees and fundraisers like yearbook sales. Everything is on the books and done through reimbursement as the ASCMC is a 501(c)(3) organization. We also go to different CMC and 5C organizations to get money depending on what the event is. For major 5C parties we get funding from all 5Cs.
Last weekend's White Party, for example, was primarily funded by CMC, but we asked for the maximum from the other schools. Of course, not all 5C schools have as much money as CMC does.
What role does the Dean of Students play in all this?
The Dean of Students' office deals with the issues when things go wrong, and then they talk to us. This year we've had a lot of communication between the DOS and ASCMC. They keep us updated on issues we have and talk to us and discuss possible solutions with us. It sucks that the rules are getting tougher, but they haven't dropped a single rule on us without talking about it, which is great. Overall, there's a lot of communication.
What drew you to the position of Social Affairs Committee Chair?
I wanted to be SACC within the first month of my arrival at CMC. Basically, I realized that we had a large budget we could throw parties with and all we had to do was throw parties with it. I was dorm president last year and saw how things worked via that job. I threw a lot of parties without an official title in my suite, and I guess it just went from there.
Who will be the next SACC?
I haven't heard of anyone who has wanted to step up. Hopefully someone will. I don't want to do it next year because there are a lot of other positions I'd be more interested in. If I were going to run for an ASCMC position I'd want to run for class president. The senior class president gets to throw the 100 and 200 days left parties, as well as frequent Las Vegas trips.
Can you talk about the White Party controversy from last week and what your role in it was?
Fortunately I wasn't the one who had to deal with it. Isayas Theodros, the Sophomore Class President, hosted the party and had to deal with it the most. Still, the ASCMC sat down as soon as we heard about it and discussed what we should do. I think we did exactly what we should have done—nothing.