The future of Senior Cocktails remains unclear after the cancellation of the December Cocktails. Senior Class officers are deciding what events to hold next semester and plan to notify the Class of 2008 before winter break.
“We’re still going to have Cocktails, but not in the same capacity as before, just because we’ve realized there’s a lot of problems in the way it’s been done,” said Senior Class President Rashida Richardson ’08. “The main problem is that people binge drink before [Cocktails], and we can’t control that.”
Instead of the typical Cocktail with a DJ and open bar, the Senior Class officers are pursuing a different type of event that won’t revolve around alcohol consumption.
“I think the [events] will be better than just what people expect for Cocktails, and Senior Week will be the standard thing that’s expected,” Richardson said.
Richardson was unable to disclose any details about the upcoming events, but Director of Student Activities & Leadership Development Tim Shiner offered some examples of what the group is considering.
“We’ve talked about having a live band at a venue off-campus,” Shiner explained. “We’ve talked about finding a venue that has multiple rooms that can be used for activities with maybe a pool hall or karaoke in one room, or dancing in another room. We’ve always done, during Senior Week, an outdoor day with tennis, swimming, and basketball. We’ve talked about doing more of a dinner as opposed to a dance.”
Some students are looking forward to such senior events.
“I was a little disappointed with the ambience and limitations of Cocktails, and would welcome something different,” said Nick Russell ’08. “A wider range of environments and activities would be great, or at least the ability to leave at will.”
With the change to the Senior Cocktails program, members of the Class of 2008 will be able to cancel their yearlong passes if they purchased one. About 520 students bought them. The passes were $190 and included four events and Senior Week. The refund details are still being worked out.
“I think a lot of people are going to opt out of their passes, which sucks,” Richardson said.
“If these changes go through, I will strongly consider opting out of my pass,” said Nick Benacerraf ’08. “What makes Senior Cocktails a unique event is its foundation in tradition. In many ways, it is a rite of passage for students. I do not think it is absolutely necessary that it be an alcohol-based environment, but it becomes trivial when it is the kind of event that can be enjoyed by students in any class.”
The December Cocktails was cancelled after the mistreatment of the bus drivers who transported students to and from the October event. According to Shiner, one student punched the director of the bus company, who was trying to guide students boarding the buses. Another bus driver was injured after tripping on an alcohol bottle that was left on the bus, and couldn’t work for two weeks.
“There’s a general sort of verbal harassment that happens at these events, for as long as they’ve gone on, where both the bus staff and venue staff are treated very poorly by intoxicated students, particularly at the end of the night when we’re trying to arrange an orderly exit of the venue,” Shiner said.
As a result, the bus company cancelled its contract with the University.
“I found myself pretty disappointed with the students in our class,” Benacerraf said. “Even fun-time is not an unconditional license to be destructive. The bus company, and the school as a whole, deserves a whole lot more from the senior class.”
However, the actions of several students do not account for those of the entire class.
“Personally, none of the people I hung around during that night were in any way disrespectful to either the event or busing staff,” said Latonja Sinckler ’08. “As a matter a fact, I know at least 15 people who thanked the bus driver when we came off the bus.”
Shiner agreed with Sinckler’s sentiments.
“I don’t believe it’s a reflection of the class as a whole because most of the time, and even the bus company said this, when sober, the students at Wesleyan are great and doing great things,” he said.
Shiner and the senior class officers have had difficulty in finding a replacement bus company.
“There aren’t that many bus companies in the area, and some don’t take on events like these,” Shiner noted. “At this point, we have a few leads but nothing certain.”
Next year’s seniors can expect similar changes to their Cocktails program.
“We’ll look at how things go this coming semester and work with whoever’s elected to the Senior Class next year to find out what the best plan is,” Shiner said. “But, judging from the fact that it’s been several years, and not just this event, of escalating bad behavior, I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll go back to what Senior Cocktails has been in the past.”