Peer pressure, policy and tradition

I remember, back in my day, we would drink and have a good time but other people would drink, and it wasn’t for the right reasons, and they would not have a good time. They had been pressured into it.

It is my understanding that the school has seen a great change in both policy and attitude towards hosting parties on campus this year. I’ve never considered myself to be much of a party animal, though I did run the toga party for four years. When I was approached by The Watch and asked to write this article, it took me a long time to think of anything to say in relation to raging, peer pressure and alcohol.
But then it occurred to me — I was in residence at King’s an awfully long time, and I suppose I could put some new light on what I perceive to be an interesting shift over the time that I spent there. To that end, I’d like to take a little time to ruminate on what I think is a shift back to a more traditional King’s residence experience. A lot changed over the five years I lived in residence. But, the biggest change — one of attitude and spirit — has occurred this year, I’m told.
I remember that, only last year, parties were not allowed in Alex Hall. This was for a number of sound reasons. The first was logistical — bays are much more conducive to a party atmosphere, given their large open central staircases, and the double room aspect which allows for whole front rooms to be cleared, making ample room for dancing and frivolity and mirth and so forth. Alex Hall, built like a hospital, has one long hall and smaller rooms with two beds, and two desks, and other such fire hazards all about the place.
Now, parties weren’t banned there for logistical reasons. Rather, it was because of the “No-Drinking-in-the-Hallway Rule.” Given the smallness of the rooms and the way that they would get hot and stinky in no time flat, people went out into the halls and they drank there.
This is a huge problem for a school with a bar on campus — if the bar was open, and someone in a position of legal authority saw that students were drinking outside their rooms or outside the designated drinking area under the A&A, the bar could lose its liquor license.
I remember, back in my day, we would drink and have a good time but other people would drink, and it wasn’t for the right reasons, and they would not have a good time. They had been pressured into it.
It would not be any exaggeration to say that my first year was unusual. Back in my day, there was that whole double cohort thing, whereby both grade 12 and grade 13 all came out of high school at once. I think this had something to do with a rise in peer pressure since about a third of the population leaving high school was already of legal drinking age and the other two thirds just wanted to fit in.
My first-year don told me that, before my year, Middle Bay was always very quiet. But, virtually every year I was in residence, on Tuesday morning after every FYP Monday, the campus looked like a war zone. I mean, sure, it was still a special occasion when taps were ripped off, the doors were covered with shoe prints and the poor cleaning staff were left to scrape vomit off the maples.
But, I think that two points indicate residences are shifting back to a more traditional King’s style: a reluctance on the part of bays to host parties and a reduction in the number of trips to the hospital for alcohol poisoning (the record for which is three times during frosh week in my third year — by other people, I should add, not by me).
Obviously, taking on a party is a great responsibility for any location — decorations have to be purchased, refreshments arranged and cleanup managed. If people don’t want to host parties, and if people don’t want to party, it is entirely up to them.
Each year must define itself, and it seems this year isn’t a raging year — and, by God, I think the grounds could use a break!
It is not a loss of spirit in the first-years which has led to this change, but rather a decision to be true to themselves, which I think is downright admirable.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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