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Public parties to resume, Martel sundeck off-limits for morning party

Pub will stay 21+ through Beer Bike, become 18+ April 11

Ndidi Nwosu / Thresher

By Riya Misra     3/26/24 11:39pm

Campus-wide public parties will resume in time for Beer Bike and Brown College’s Bacchanalia, Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman announced in an email to students March 22. The sundeck will permanently be off-limits for Martel College’s morning party, and colleges will not be allowed to reschedule or host additional public parties this semester. 

Pub nights will remain restricted to attendees 21 or older through Beer Bike. Starting April 11, Pub general manager Maya Gerke said Pub nights will reopen to attendees 18 and older. 

Gorman had previously issued a ban on public parties, restricted Pub attendance and convened an alcohol policy advisory committee in November 2023, following the early shutdown of Wiess College’s Night of Decadence.

The APAC met seven times between December 2023 and March 2024 to discuss “alcohol-related health/safety and behavioral patterns across campus,” according to their final report. Gorman wrote that she will accept most of the APAC’s recommendations in full, which includes designating the sundeck off-limits. Martel’s Beer Bike Coordinators declined to comment.

Publics and Pub

All undergraduate events with an expected attendance of over 200 must have mandatory ticketing, the report wrote. Public parties with indoor and outdoor spaces will be limited to the indoor capacity to prevent “overflow.” Attendees must present their student IDs to cross-check with the ticketing list. Holden Koch, Brown’s social coordinator and social vice president, said line management will be the biggest goal of Bacchanalia this year. He estimated capacity will be around 750 to 800 attendees, though they won’t organize an outdoor beer garden this year.

“Our biggest goal is to try to reduce the amount of time spent in line and the amount of people in line,” Koch said. “[Last year], our line was really decorated and we think that really helped set the tone of … ‘Hey, you’re at a public, you’re not just in line.’”

Prior to Beer Bike, each residential college is required to submit a written statement to Gorman about their strategy for enforcing alcohol safety.

The APAC report recommends that Gorman and Pub “continue analysis of Pub capacity and access control strategies … but [feels] that details of any plans would be best informed by Pub leadership.” At time of initial publication, Gorman said she hadn’t yet met with Pub leadership about capacity and attendance. As of March 25, Gerke said she had not spoken to Gorman. 

“Because of Beer Bike coming, our [April 4 Pub night] is going to be Alumni Pub, and it’s going to be 21 plus regardless,” Gerke, a Jones College junior, said. “It doesn’t make sense to give [students under 21] the pass to come in [this week] and then just take it from them the next week.

“If we made it 18 plus this week, it’d just be such chaos, guaranteed,” Gerke continued. “We don’t want … restrictions being put on Beer Bike just because people start to go crazy [at Pub].”

Amnesty and long-term policies

Students who receive medical transportation will now be subject to a mandatory assessment by the Wellbeing and Counseling Center. The APAC report also proposed changes to the amnesty policy, where those in violation would receive a temporary warning that won’t stay on a permanent judicial record. In an interview with the Thresher, Gorman said she was “inclined” to implement the modifications, but will solicit more feedback before doing so.

Vincent Behnke, a Will Rice College junior, said he understands the logic behind increasing sanctions, but is concerned about how students would safely drink, if the amnesty changes were implemented.

“You don’t want to incentivize drinking too much hard alcohol. But I don’t think [changing amnesty] is going to stop people from doing that,” Behnke said. “All it’s going to do is stop people from calling REMS, or at least they’re going to have second thoughts about doing it … That could be a serious risk to students, if you’re sick and your friend isn’t going to call REMS immediately because they’re not sure if they’re going to be disciplined for doing the right thing.”

Gorman said she wants to discourage the idea that amnesty is a safeguard for students to consume alcohol without consequences. 

“The ability to drink on campus is a privilege, and not a right,” Gorman said in an interview with the Thresher last week. “If the collective reaction of the community [after the ban is lifted] is ‘woohoo, here we go, I can do whatever I want’ — you never could do whatever you wanted. There always were very well-articulated policies, first beginning with Texas state law, then our alcohol policy and our Code of Student Conduct.”

The rest of the APAC recommends long-term educational and accountability strategies that Gorman’s office will begin to implement, she wrote. Suggestions include increased sanctions for colleges that violate the alcohol policy — such as formal warnings or elimination of FITQs and college nights, a “re-launch” of the culture of care and enhanced requirements for Chief Justice candidates.

“I don’t want to have to sanction students. I don’t want to have to sanction colleges,” Gorman said. “I think one of the best features of the undergraduate experience at Rice is the extent to which we respect students’ self-governance, but you must govern … and people must take these policies seriously. There’s still lots of space in here for people to have fun.”

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 4/17/24 5:23pm
Jones wins men’s and women’s Beer Bike races, GSA snags alumni

Jones College won both the women’s and men’s Beer Bike 2024 races, while the Graduate Student Association claimed the alumni team win. Hanszen College bike teams were the runner-up in the alumni and men’s races, while Brown College was the runner-up in the women’s race. Martel and McMurtry Colleges did not bike in the alumni race, according to the Rice Program Council’s final report, and the GSA was disqualified from the men’s race for accidentally sending out two bikers simultaneously.


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