ASCMC: Looking Beyond the Parties

When students received the Party Inform two Wednesdays ago, the reaction went a little like this: “Oh look, the Party Inform is out! Thursday C-Hall TNC! Those are always fun. What? No Saturday party? [expletive] ASCMC sucks!” Immediately, students took to Facebook and flooded our news feeds with angry statuses. They were clear in citing the perceived source of this outrageous crime: ASCMC.

In all fairness, I am willing to grant that the absence of a registered Saturday night event is a disappointment and that CMC nightlife has seen a recent decline. But was the Saturday night in North Quad not a fun time even in the rain? Is it not refreshing to be charged with making our own fun every once in a while? I may be mistaken, but the occasional unplanned night usually ends up being a great time. But I digress. My problem is not with the lack of a Saturday party. I have an issue with the immediate reaction.

The idea has always been around that ASCMC exists exclusively as an organization that facilitates the social atmosphere on campus—ASCMC provides students with alcohol. It has been and will continue to be a source of pride for CMCers—a badge of honor that every student wears. It is commonplace for CMCers to support their school by saying, “Yes, friend-who-goes-to-Williams, my school is cooler than yours. We get free alcohol.”

But gone are the days in which ASCMC is hailed as a unique organization that makes CMC fun, for which we should be grateful. Lately, students have been using ASCMC as a scapegoat for a problem for which it is not entirely responsible. In addition, ASCMC’s wonderful contributions to the CMC community (and the student body) have been seriously overlooked.

As finals time approaches, how many students are grateful for the 24/7 availability of one of the most important student study spaces on campus, the Crocker Reading Room? We have ASCMC to thank for that. At a school where the arts and entrepreneurship have largely been overlooked, what organization allocated funds for entrepreneurial competitions, instituting new services that improve CMC and even art initiatives like SCAMfest? ASCMC.

And think for a second how many students at CMC participate in clubs and social organizations—a large number of them. Every single CMC club and several 5C clubs depend on yearly reapportioned ASCMC funding. ASCMC spends about $85,000 a year on groups like CMC’s branch of Model UN (which recently established itself as one of the premier Model UN programs in the nation), non-varsity sports teams (such as our fantastic 5C rugby team and the Cougs of Men’s Lacrosse), and social awareness groups such as Rotaract and the Red Cross. That’s a substantial amount of time and money going toward providing our students with the means to pursue their passions, escape from the monotony of schoolwork, and develop leadership skills in every field.

ASCMC is also the umbrella corporation for CMC’s Senate, but most students are unaware as to the intricacies of the organization (even if most of them have “ASCMC Senator” on their resume). At Senate, students can learn about the presidential selection process and its evolution directly from the Chair of the Selection Committee David Mgrublian. They can ask President Gann a question about the school. They can listen to ASCMC President Aditya Pai '13 give a State of the Students Address (and possibly mute this nonsense about ASCMC’s inability to function). They can even ask for a portion of the $12,000 that Senate grants to CMC student projects annually, though you should have a good reason for needing the money. Senate is an arena in which students are allowed—encouraged even—to participate directly in affecting school policy.

With respect to parties, ASCMC merely facilitates the logistics and does not have sole discretion in throwing them. Sure, it can choose from a limited number of locations, decide on themes, and even provide a keg, but increasingly, there are unavoidable obstacles in the way of ASCMC’s ability to “make” nights fun. The restrictions imposed by the school’s administration must be followed. The administration is becoming more and more stringent on fundamental party aspects such as security, 5C student inclusion, fencing, and even townie intrusion. Now, ASCMC can, and absolutely does, negotiate on our behalf, but the administration makes the final decisions.

The perception, then, that ASCMC’s sole responsibility is to throw parties is exaggerated and perhaps even ignorant. Its coordination of parties is simply the most visible aspect of its operations and thus receives the most attention. Throwing parties is a fraction of what ASCMC does, and indicting our student government on the grounds of “not doing its job” is absurd.