By Clif Ballard, K ‘09
As a K College alumnus, I am generally extremely proud of my alma mater and its student body. But given what I have been hearing from current students and the statements I have been reading on Facebook and in online news, I am very disappointed with the way certain students are choosing to approach campus policy change.
For those of you who don’t know me, I was the President of Kaleidoscope during 2008-2009 and threw the biggest Crystal Ball to date (the one that had professional drag dancers and the first to have two separate DJ’s), so I am no stranger to student leadership, campus event policy, or event security concerns.
Before I discuss “mobility…privacy…respect”, I would like to address how college administrators have been treated and portrayed throughout the past few weeks. “The Administration” is actually a group of incredibly nice and reasonable people who, in addition to their daily grind, spend quite a bit of their personal time trying to ensure that K students can have fun in a safe environment. Some even worked 18-hour workdays putting together Monte Carlo for you.
In addition to working double-time and making personal sacrifices for student events, Student Life employees have many other responsibilities. But in my experience they have always made time to meet with students and discuss pressing campus issues, even going so far as to hold campus-wide forums when requested. This is a fact that the organizer of the sit-in seems to have missed, as he didn’t contact a single member of Student Life to try to schedule a meeting. Protest is a tool for times when dialogue has failed, not what you jump to before dialogue is even attempted.
On the issue of “mobility”, having personally helmed the door at several K dances, I can tell you that it already takes over 3 hours to get 1000 students into Hicks in even the best of conditions. If students are continually leaving and reentering the dance, getting in would take that much longer. But maybe you still feel reentry is in need of evaluation? Well, during weeks 3 and 4 of this quarter, Student Life employees communicated to student leaders via email that they planned to review the issue, but that due to time constraints it would not be able to be changed before the Monte Carlo. These communications seem to have gone unmentioned by protest leaders for weeks.
In terms of “privacy” and the rumors of “unreasonable searches”, Security does reasonably search bags, as well as ask students to remove large coats so they may be searched. But there is not a single record of any student ever having been subjected to a pat down. Granted, student leaders and Student Life do not watch every person enter, but Dean Westfall has stated several times that if any student has been made uncomfortable they need only let her know and the issue will be looked into.
And as far as “respect”, certain people of legal age seem to find the no alcohol policy limiting, but their reasoning is a complete mystery to me. I shouldn’t have to tell anyone that being able to drink legally does not mean you get to drink or be drunk wherever you want, whenever you want. Furthermore, for any student who feels drinking heavily is a requirement to have fun for a few hours out dancing, there are plenty of bars and clubs in Kalamazoo whose sticky, booze-splattered dance floors can accommodate you.
And what about the “respect” students who drink have shown dance organizers and school property? In his article titled “Monte Carlo Policies: Administration Underestimates Student Responsibility”, Jordan Rickard makes the following statement: “Maybe the age gap between students and the administration is wide enough that they do not view college students as any more responsible than high school students.” But honestly, should they? Over the past few years we have had a student leave a dance literally bleeding from the head after being unable to keep her balance, several who have vomited all over Hicks, and Dean Westfall has had to personally drag an unconscious student out from under a locked bathroom stall. Even at the best Crystal Ball in years, in addition to the usual vomit, a student peed on the floor! Is this respect and responsibility?
I won’t claim to be a bastion of responsible drinking. But I will claim to be adult enough not to blame any of my adolescent benders on someone else. The reality isn’t that college administrators are fostering an environment of binge drinking. It is that a few students, along with the mantra of “study hard, play hard”, feel entitled to drink themselves into oblivion and then need to find a scapegoat when someone finally reminds them that they are being immature.
Now if after reading this you still aren’t happy with event policy that is perfectly okay. I fully encourage the questioning of rules and regulations. But I would hope that, instead of marching into Hicks and demanding to no one in particular that your voice be heard, you would walk the short distance to the Student Life offices and simply make an appointment with any of the staff. Just be sure your reasoning is honest and authentic, not a protest for protest’s sake.