February 1, 2002

Student Assembly Reviews Slope Day

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The Student Assembly met yesterday to address the issue of alcohol and substance abuse on Slope Day, in a response to recommendations made by the Slope Day Steering Committee. President Hunter R. Rawlings III initiated the committee in order to preserve the event while “dramatically reducing the risk of alcohol-related medical emergencies.” The group has submitted preliminary recommendations to Rawlings, who has not yet responded to the suggestions.

Propositions

Among the recommendations, according to Student Assembly President Uzo Asonye ’02, is the proposition to “limit hard alcohol on the slope.” Also, “each student would receive an ID bracelet indicating whether they are over 21 or not,” according to Asonye.

Other suggestions included permitting beer to be the only beverage that can be brought to the slope, having class celebrations as an alternative to pre-slope parties, and “having a DJ to promote a festive atmosphere,” said Asonye.

The committee also suggested constructing a fence that would enclose parts of Libe Slope and Ho Plaza. However, Engineering representative Thomas Leung ’02 said that the idea “doesn’t really translate into fewer injuries.” Instead of putting up a fence, he suggested adding more security, water or educational programs.

New Perspectives

It was the opinion of Director of Alcohol Policy Initiatives Tim Marchell ’82 that “what we see on the slope isn’t something that can be changed with education alone … The challenge is to look for new, creative traditions that we can start now.”

He added, “I honestly believe that the central concern of administrators is the health and safety of students,” while also citing legal liability of the University as a major concern.

Marchell gave a presentation about proposed changes to the event. He related a brief history of the ritual on the last day of classes. Starting as Spring Day in 1979, alcohol abuse during the event became problematic during the mid-1980’s.

History

Throughout the ’90’s, University Health Services saw increases in alcohol-related medical emergencies, and in 1998, began to introduce strategies to combat the dilemma. Marchell described the initiatives, which included printing information about alcohol poisoning, increasing the number of volunteers who can identify emergencies, and providing various alternate activities.

“The overall tone of [Slope Day] has improved,” said Marchell, “but the kinds of medical emergencies have not declined … Every year there are students who are in danger of respiratory or cardiac arrest.”

He also cited data from a series of surveys conducted on the student body concerning the event. According to Marchell, about 92 percent of Cornell students attended Slope Day last year. Of those, 31 percent said that they had no drinks, 28 percent had one to five, and 29 percent had six to ten. The survey also indicated that of those who drank, about 40 percent began drinking at pre-slope parties, such as ones held by fraternities and sororities.

Later, the assembly also passed a proposition to provide fan buses to Cornell sporting events.

“I want students to be able to follow the Big Red to venues of their choice,” said Josh Roth ’03, the arts and sciences representative who submitted the proposition. The idea is to promote athletic events by providing transportation for students, because, according to the resolution, “support for the Big Red fosters a more cohesive campus community.”

Roth also suggested utilizing part of the student activity fee to institute the plan if there was not cooperation with the athletics division, a proposal not discussed among the members.


Archived article by Mackenzie Damon