Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, July 01, 2022 — Houston, TX

Duncan magisters lift ban on private gatherings with alcohol

Illustration by Esther Tang

By Emily Abdow and Cameron Wallace     1/8/19 10:05pm

The Duncan College magisters lifted a college-wide ban on private gatherings with alcohol instituted in December after meeting with students this week, according to a college-wide email sent by the magisters on Jan. 11. 

“In my email announcing the moratorium at the end of last semester, I ended with
a note about my belief that Duncan has much to be proud of and expressed my confidence that this moment would give us all new reasons for pride,“ Duncan magister Caleb McDaniel wrote. “That confidence has been proven correct in the last few weeks, and we are more confident than ever that the future for our Culture of Care at Duncan is bright.”

Though the ban on alcohol at private gatherings has been lifted, crawl stops are still not allowed, according to a college-wide email sent by Chief Justice Cole Crawford. The college will also no longer allow the registration of events with hard alcohol.

The ban on crawl stops will not be lifted until there is “a concrete, campus-wide plan” in place to make crawls safer, according to a presentation attached to the email sent by Crawford.

According to the presentation, a safer plan would involve increased accountability for crawl stop hosts, mandatory food stops on every crawl and shifting crawl culture away from hard alcohol. 

The Duncan magisters implemented the ban after learning through conversations with students that underaged students served and were served hard alcohol at private gatherings, according to Duncan Magister Caleb McDaniel. McDaniel wrote in a college-wide email that the violations of the alcohol policy had occurred with the knowledge of student leaders. 

“You need to know that we do not support the serving of hard alcohol to underage students, and we view this as a bright line that should never be crossed,” McDaniel wrote in the email announcing the ban on Dec. 3. 

“Our categorical disapproval of this practice comes from our many years of empirical observation about the particular dangers that hard alcohol can pose to the health and well-being of students.”

Crawford said chief justices are working with SJP and administration to further define the role of chief justices in regards to the alcohol policy. 

“After talking with SJP and clarifying our role as CJ, there will be a campus-wide push towards enforcement of hard alcohol policies instead of only educating students on the alcohol policy,” Crawford said. 

Last semester, six students were hospitalized in alcohol-related incidents, according to Crawford. According to Duncan President Gregory Van Kirk, the number of transports is a symptom of the party culture that caused the ban, but not the direct cause of the ban itself.

Duncan senior Aitash Deepak said the ban on private gatherings with alcohol will have a negative effect on the social lives of students who enjoy alcohol, and  may encourage them to find alcohol elsewhere, in environments where there could be less safe drinking cultures.

“While I understand that there was enormous pressure on the magisters to take some action, a college-wide ban on private gatherings with alcohol simply shifts the underlying problem to other settings,” Deepak said. “People from Duncan are still likely to attend events and crawls with alcohol at other colleges and simply skip stops at Duncan. My worry is that people might begin looking for alcohol off campus where it may not be as safe to drink as it is with the culture of care at Duncan.”

Duncan freshman Jared Perkowski said that he thought the ban was an effective response to reports of alcohol abuse, and since it was implemented during finals week, it will not have had a great impact on students’ social lives. 

“I am supportive of the alcohol ban at Duncan,” Perkowski said. “I think of the ban as an opportunity for Duncan to stop and reflect on the drinking culture we have as a residential college, not as a punishment against any particular group of people at Duncan.”

Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman said the Duncan magisters consulted with her before instituting the ban, but it was ultimately their decision. 

“As for timeline, my understanding is they hope [the moratorium] will be short lived,” Gorman said in an email.

McDaniel said Van Kirk and Crawford agreed to the ban and are using the period of the moratorium to clarify expectations. That way, students at Duncan  understand the repercussions they will face for violating the alcohol policy.

“Our hope is that this moratorium will give you an opportunity, as a college, to reflect on where things stand, clarify expectations with student leaders and, where necessary, correct your course,” McDaniel wrote in a Dec. 3 email. “This move is a first for us as magisters. That ought to communicate the seriousness with which we view the current situation.”

Talks like the ones this week at Duncan will occur at other residential colleges early in the semester, according to Crawford.

Duncan is not the only  residential college to have placed limitations on private gatherings with alcohol this year. 

In November, Martel College CJ Kyle Dickens sent a college-wide email stating that private alcohol events could not be hosted on the Sundeck, a public space on the roof of the Martel Commons.

“The last thing I want, and hopefully you all agree, is to have more frequent reports to SJP resulting in sanctions to the college and tighter restrictions coming from administration,” Dickens wrote. “Ideally, I want to maintain the Sundeck as a utilized party space, for it is a lovely asset of Martel’s architecture, but there may need to be some changes for this to be possible.”

Jan. 11 at 2:45 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the lifting of the ban on private gatherings involving alcohol.

This story has been updated to reflect that six students were transported last semester. It previously incorrectly stated all six were freshmen. 

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 6/16/22 6:36pm
Michigan professor Amy Dittmar named Rice’s next provost

Amy Dittmar, the senior vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, has been selected as Rice’s new provost, incoming president Reginald DesRoches announced Thursday. DesRoches, the current provost, will become Rice’s president on July 1, and Dittmar will start August 1.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.