On Thursday, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Alcohol and Other Drugs Education and Environmental Subcommittee organized a forum to discuss diversifying the typical weekend social scene for those not interested in pre-gaming, drunken dance parties, and other events largely focused around alcohol.
“The impetus for it was that Dean Melendez emailed some of us on the Alcohol and Other Drugs Education and Environment Subcommittee and said that she had spoken to freshmen who were frustrated with the current social scene,” said WSA representative and co-organizer of the forum, Jen Liebschutz ’11. “They’re not interested in drinking or going to parties, and we’re asking about other options.”
A group of interested students gathered over dinner in the Daniel Family Commons to meet like-minded people, talk about their weekend experiences in the past, and work together to expand the non-drinking options on campus in the future.
“I think [the social scene] is just not right for everyone,” Liebschutz said. “We’ve looked at the data. Fewer than half of students are drinking on a given weekend night. And there are people who drink occasionally but would rather do something else on a given night, so we thought it was important to brainstorm ideas for other late-night activities.”
Attendees discussed problems with the current situation in small groups, which then joined together to compile a list of alternative activities.
“It can be fun to go to parties, just not all the time,” said Sarah Bessey ’14. “Sometimes you want something else to do on a weekend, and you just don’t feel like going to a party.”
Many students expressed their dissatisfaction at the lack of socializing opportunities available outside of the party scene, and say that the only non-alcohol centered activities on a given night are often movies or plays.
“It’s really hard to meet people if you don’t want to drink,” said Aileen McGrory ’14. “Most of the events that happen that don’t directly involve drinking are sitting there and watching something, and if you go to a party and you don’t want to drink, you’re surrounded by people who are [drinking]. You aren’t going to form any meaningful attachments with anyone, and even if you did they won’t remember it in the morning, which is just awkward.”
Attendees signed up for an email list that would help make students aware of alcohol free options, which may not be advertised as well as other parties on campus. Students were encouraged to use the email list to promote any events that they are organizing.
“I feel pressured to drink on weekends just because I don’t find it fun to go to parties sober with a bunch of drunk people,” said a member of the class of 2013 who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s really uncomfortable, and I wish I had other options, but either they don’t exist, or they aren’t very well advertized—just stuck on the events calendar and never mentioned. Meanwhile, any student group throwing a dance party has posters everywhere and Facebook events, so that’s where my friends and I end up going.”
One of the main issues discussed at the forum was the timing of weekend events on campus.
“It’s such a pain that the social events they have that are not revolving around parties generally aren’t at the same time as them,” said Natalie Sacks ’14. “The shows will be over by nine or ten, movies are earlier, so what do you do when you can hear crazy drunken partying all around you and there’s nothing for you to do?“
Among the suggested alternatives were cooking and dance classes, board game tournaments, a scavenger hunt and sessions at the Van Vleck Observatory.