I may have cleaned up your vomit last November.
When I volunteered to plan Winter Ball with the Program Board, I did so because I love a good shindig. Decorations, dressing up, DJs, fancy hors d’oeuvres—that stuff is my jam. I like it so much I was willing to sacrifice 5-15 hours a week starting last June alongside Brynna Crockett ‘15, my amazing co-chair, to plan Winter Ball.
It was a ton of work, to be real with you. Planning an event that large involves keeping a careful budget, hours of dedicated planning and troubleshooting and countless emails and phonecalls.
Three months after the event, I’ve been trying to rebook the Crowne Plaza Hotel for next year’s Winter Ball. After weeks of no response, on Monday I received a phone call from the hotel’s liaison. “We are unable to host you again,” said the liaison. “There were too many incidents last time. Too much liability.” We are officially uninvited. Done.
I did the math in my head. Of the approximately six venues in the Twin Cities that have the capacity for us, we absolutely cannot return to one of them. Another would require breathalyzer tests upon entry for every single attendee. Then there’s one venue we’d prefer not to use, and two more we can’t trust the Macalester student body to respect. That leaves about two venues.
One’s already booked.
Before you start consoling yourself and/or deflecting blame, hear me out. I’m not saying don’t drink—seriously. I am saying shame on you, however, for three main reasons which I will list a la Martin Luther:
1) There is a difference we are failing to understand as a community between drinking and binge-drinking and it sure as hell isn’t a nuance. If it’s 10:30 pm on a Saturday night and you’re on your sixth shot, you are binge-drinking. Have the courage to recognize your own patterns and the actions of those around you.
2) Many of us are telling (re: encouraging) others that Winter Ball/Kagin/house parties are occasions to drink oneself silly— I’m looking at you, upperclassmen. If someone asks you, maybe an orientee or a first year in your Stats class, “What’s Winter Ball?” and you respond (as I know I have) with, “It’s just this off-campus dance where everyone gets wasted,” you are perpetuating untrue and unhealthy expectations.
3) We are all witnesses to those who push their limit too far. Maybe you saw them keep drinking— you could have helped them get on a bus and enter Winter Ball or been too drunk yourself to realize they were puking in a corner. We try to screen the masses, but there are over a thousand of you and only a few of us.
After I got off the phone with the hotel liaison, I found myself incredibly sad. It’s not so much because being banned from the Crowne Plaza taints the success of an event into which I poured my heart. It’s not even that we, as a student body, so horrendously represented ourselves and our school. No, it’s the fact that we’re okay watching our friends become incapacitatingly f*cked-up.
“The behavior of a few can ruin it for everyone,” said the hotel liaison. She’s right, but as participants, bystanders and enablers, we are all responsible.