This week in NESCAC news: Bates College cancels Halloween tradition

In the past week, NESCAC schools have made many changes, from improved policies to new campus programs.

Following Amherst College’s lead from a few weeks ago, in which the administration implemented strategies to increase awareness of Title IX policies on campus, Bowdoin College announced proposed changes to their own sexual assault policies. The school plans to add a gender-based violence category along with a formal process for reporting sexual assault (which Bowdoin currently lacks). 

Also in Maine, Bates College students received an email from the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs Joshua McIntosh stating that the Halloween tradition of “Trick or Drink” has been banned. In previous years, this tradition entailed students moving from house to house off-campus, imbibing a different mixed drink at each location.

McIntosh cited the event’s promotion of “binge and underage drinking,” along with its inconsistencies with the College’s goal to “create a healthy, respectful social environment on campus” as reasons for the cancelation. Student complaints include the insufficient advance warning from administrators, and frustration over the end of popular social event, with some senior class students going so far as to threaten withholding donations to their class gift.

In response to concerns similar to those of Bates’s administration, Middlebury College has begun implementation of their Party Assistant program. Director of Health and Wellness Barbara McCall explained that the goal of the program “is to increase safety and reduce risk at registered parties through peer-to-peer support.” The assistants will consist of compensated students who undergo a formal training process, and their duties include providing non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, removing persons who are overly intoxicated and ultimately “[acting] as a resource for both the hosts and attendees.”

Troubling news came out of Amherst, where multiple posters from the #BlackLivesMatter campaign were torn down or covered up. The College’s Department of Black Studies responded to the racist sentiments, stating, “this disrespect…sends a terrible message to our community.” The Department encouraged students to act with “basic human decency.”

This unfortunate event mirrors a similar one from Williams College a few weeks ago, in which someone cut out the eyes, slit the throat, and drew a cross on the forehead of an Arab Muslim alum pictured on an “I Am Williams” promotional poster. Both the police and the Williams Administration are still investigating the crime.

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