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Wednesday, December 06, 2023 — Houston, TX

Moderation and safety crucial to on-campus drinking

By Thresher Editorial Board     11/7/23 10:53pm

After seven students were transported to the hospital at Night of Decadence Oct. 28 and the public was shut down nearly two hours early, Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman announced that all publics through spring break would be canceled and Pub Night would be only open to 21+ students until further notice. Many students have responded with upset and even anger at this decision, sharing thoughts on Fizz and creating petitions about the matter. While it is fair to be sad about the loss of some important college traditions, we need to consider how severe the alcohol situation on campus has gotten to necessitate this decision.

Rice has a unique social system where parties are funded by the university and have thoughtful infrastructure. Though socials heads, chief justices and caregivers did all they could to keep NOD under control, the situation quickly escalated beyond their capacity. It is completely reasonable for Rice to worry about legal liability at a public it funds. In addition, Pub has faced multiple investigations from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, so it is right to treat the bar with diligence to ensure its continued existence. 

We are lucky to have such a strong safety system at publics, one that students at other universities and bigger state schools often do not have, but that does not mean we can take advantage of it. As we emphasized in our previous editorial, CJs, caregivers, security volunteers and other students responsible for planning and executing publics have done nearly all they can to educate students about safe drinking practices and to create supportive environments at the publics themselves. At the end of the day, it’s up to the student body to realize that something has to change, or else we will risk the loss of traditions for years to come.  

A petition by college socials heads does bring up the point that seniors in particular have lost years of college traditions due to COVID. We empathize with this situation and encourage administration to find ways to allow seniors one last opportunity to experience the traditions that make Rice Rice next semester. While this may not be completely walking back the decision to cancel publics through spring break, students already have plenty of ideas of how we can incorporate these traditions in different ways. From supporting public-themed Pub nights to restricting publics to juniors and seniors only, the student body could have a voice on how to best allow seniors to experience their last bit of Rice culture. 

However, we also must acknowledge that the decisions the administration has made in an attempt to keep campus drinking under control were not entirely out of line. After we stretched thin the capacities of on and off-campus assistance, Gorman’s decisions could have been far more drastic. The alcohol policy has not been changed, college nights are still allowed and smaller parties within colleges have not been banned — ultimately, campus did not go dry. While publics are great, they’re not the only fun on campus. 

This decision demonstrates that having traditions carry on is not a guarantee when the safety and legal risk is too great for the university. If we want to have Beer Bike and publics resume post-spring break, as well as a reason for Gorman to not make campus dry, we need to use this time to show we can drink responsibly and in moderation rather than see it as an opportunity to continue drinking heavily and unsafely, even in smaller settings. We need to be smart and safe — at the very least, these seniors deserve a final Beer Bike. 

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Prayag Gordy, Riya Misra, Nayeli Shad, Brandon Chen, Sammy Baek, Sarah Knowlton, Hadley Medlock and Pavithr Goli. Editor-in-chief Riya Misra recused herself from this editorial due to reporting on the corresponding story in our news section.

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