ASCMC Weekly Beat: Social Media and Party Culture

Exec Board ASCMC's Administrative and Budgetary Committee (ABC) and Executive Board held meetings last Sunday, November 18. Although the ABC discussed various requests it has received for increases in funding, it decided to postpone re-budgeting until the end of the semester.

Financial Advisor David Hirsch had exciting news for the Board regarding ASCMC finances. Not only are Jim Nauls and Story House covering Monte Carlo damage charges, but Hirsch discovered while negotiating with Story House that the rate ASCMC has been paying—$36 per hour for cleaning up events—is far higher than it should be; the “college rate,” to which ASCMC should be subject, is just $18 per hour. Regarding this lower rate, Hirsch explained, “That’s going to be money in the bank. That’s going to White Party.”

When Senate President Pro-Tempore Miles Lifson '13 asked for feedback on questions drafted by the Committee on Technology and Elections, the response from the Board was still split regarding whether or not it would be wise to allow the use of social media in elections. Junior Class President Maddie Hall '14 suggested that changing the current policy would contribute to perpetuating incumbency advantage in elections and warned that using Facebook or a similar service for campaigning is “very polarizing, and it’s a very slippery slope. By saying yes to social media, you’re saying yes to a lot of things.” This concern was echoed by Senior Class President Clare Riva '13, who pointed out that slur tactics and other forms of negative campaigning—which, according to ASCMC President Aditya Pai '13, ASCMC regulations do not formally ban—could be “a lot more prevalent with social networks.”

However, there was also a number of board members in support of amending this change into the constitution for a variety of reasons. Hirsch responded to worries about the dangers of social media by saying, “If we did a trial run, we could obviously adapt regulations as we go.” Executive Secretary Jess Davis '16 pointed out that campaigning on social networks could improve voter turnout in ASCMC elections by broadening the availability of candidates’ platforms. Pai seconded that thought, adding that “the advantage of social media is that it’s where people are.”

Senate

Due to Thanksgiving break, ASCMC Vice President Miles Bird '13 held an optional Senate meeting Monday night, November 19, that consisted only of Open Forum. The primary topic that the senators present wanted to discuss was the party culture at CMC and how it has changed this year.

Senator Logan Solomon ’15, concerned with the lack of Saturday night parties being thrown by CMC, wanted to know if that absence was deliberate on ASCMC’s part. Bird explained that Social Affairs Chair Steven Limandibhratha '14 has been doing this deliberately and that “his reasoning was that there are other 5C parties,” but Bird also noted that there has been negative feedback to this decision.

Furthermore, Bird addressed the perception that CMC’s party culture has experienced a significant shift in recent years. “I think there’s always a sentiment of ‘back in the good old days,’” said Bird, adding that, having been at CMC five years ago, he has observed that “the party scene has changed significantly in the past five years.” He also suggested that having students speak to ASCMC social chairs from five or ten years ago could be a good way to gather interesting perspectives on how and why the party culture has become more conservative.

Bird also discussed the changing role of Thursday night parties on campus, stating that the Dean of Students “feels that Thursday should not be a party night,” and as a result, “TNC is becoming harder and harder to throw.” However, he noted that “for a number of reasons, having Thursday as a social night is a good thing. We’re hoping, at ASCMC Exec Board, to show Dean Spellman how that would be better from their perspective as well.”

Regarding this view by the administration, Senator and ABC Chair Ian O’Grady ’15 added, “From my interactions with Dean Spellman and DOS, her thought is that there is a silent majority within CMC’s campus that’s in favor of Thursday being less of a party night and having more Friday classes. From my interactions on campus, I feel like that’s not true.”

There was agreement among Senators that this administrative attitude towards the social culture has made parties noticeably worse in a number of ways. According to Solomon, there is “no reason people shouldn’t be able to bring in alcohol” to parties, and the restriction adds pressure for students to drink quickly prior to entering a party, and the allowance is “such a small issue that it’s becoming a problem.” He also criticized the fencing required at registered events, arguing that “fencing makes it not an inclusive party. You’re either in or you’re out.”

Following this discussion, the senators passionate about solving these issues decided, along with Bird, to form a task force composed of both senators and non-senators. Its purpose will be to gather feedback from students about the negative impacts of the new restrictions on parties in the hope of conveying the student body’s discontent to the administration.