November 19, 2002

Slope Day Committee Meets to Review Event

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Last Tuesday, members of the Slope Day Steering Committee met to discuss last year’s Slope Day and ideas for this year’s event. The Committee is comprised of members of the University administration, staff, faculty and student body.

The “President’s Charge to the Slope Day Steering Committee,” presented last November, assigned the Committee to the task of redesigning Slope Day so that the event will correspond to all alcohol regulations, be a safe but fun event and fulfill Cornell’s value of “freedom with responsibility.”

In an Oct. 24 letter to Kent Hubble ’67, dean of students and chairman of the Committee, President Hunter R. Rawlings III reiterated these goals. After acknowledging the Committee’s hard work, he said that the level of alcohol consumption and alcohol related injuries at last year’s Slope Day can not continue in the future.

“We cannot continue to accept this level of harm, including life-threatening situations, at such an event,” Rawlings stated in the letter.

The only decrease in injuries between the last year’s Slope Day and the Slope Day of 2001 were a result of deceased attendance due to inclement weather, according to Hubble. He also expressed concerns about safety at the event.

“We’re always reminded that if someone dies, the event will end,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if someone will die, it’s when, judging from the amount of drinking [the health center] sees on campus.”

As a solution, in the letter, Rawlings declared that the University must forbid students from bringing their own alcohol to the event. Instead, the University must hire caterers to regulate the distribution of alcohol. The organizers would then use a wristband system to separate underage students from those over 21 years of age.

However, student representative Paul El-Meouchy ’03, representing the Interfraternity Council (IFC), expressed some reservations with this system.

He worried that underage students will turn to fraternities for access to alcohol. “When underage people can’t get in, will the fraternities start having to turn away underage kids,” he said.

In addition to this major change in policy, the Steering Committee discussed several other options for this coming Slope Day. In particular, the Committee is considering reinstating the Great Feast and hiring a live band to provide music on the Slope.

In 1979, Cornell Dining originally organized the Great Feast as a free barbecue to celebrate the last day of classes. The tradition continued through the early 1980s but eventually died out.

Although, the Committee considered the idea of bringing back the tradition, they did not have time to organize it properly.

“We want the Great Feast to finally be a great feast,” Hubble said. “You go back to the original Slope Day, it was just a great party.”

In terms of live music, Hubble hopes to have a popular band that will appeal to the student body at large. “We want to create an event where there’s an incentive not to get wasted before they come,” he said.

In particular, he would like future Slope Days to resemble a popular year-end music festival at the University of Pennsylvania. As part of the continuing search for new ideas, members of the committee will visit similar festivals at other schools.

However, any events planned for Slope Day will depend on the level of student interest.

To facilitate communication, the Committee will revive the electronic chat boards from last year, where students could state their opinion on Slope Day options.

Furthermore, the student representatives on the Committee are committed to listening to students’ opinions.

“We’re looking forward to keeping our ears to the ground,” said student representative Justin McEvily ’03.

Furthermore, they said students must remember that the purpose of the Steering Committee is to preserve Slope Day, not destroy it.

“They’re not getting rid of Slope Day,” El-Meouchy said. “The whole focus of Slope Day is not on getting trashed … it’s about having fun.”

Archived article by Shannon Brescher