May 2, 2003

Students Gear Up for Slope Day 2003

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Neither rain, sleet, fences nor caterers will prevent Cornell students from amassing on the Slope today to celebrate the final day of classes.

“I’m going to drink 582 beers, one for every day the sun wasn’t out this year,” said James Widyn ’05.

The most up-to-date weather forecast for the Ithaca area by the Cornell Meteorology Unit calls for showers this morning, clearing up by mid-afternoon. The temperature should peak around 60 degrees.

“It’s one last day of stupidity before we have to get serious and study for exams,” said Phil Dubrovsky ’05. “Shit, if it rains, I’ll wear a bathing suit.”

“This year [Slope Day] will return to the original model the University established in 1979,” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services. “There will be a concert by nationally-known recording artists, major food service and sale of beer and wine to persons age 21 or older.”

The entire Slope will be fenced in this year, allowing University officials to regulate alcohol and limit the event to Cornell students and their guests, according to Murphy.

A catered slope, similar to catered services made available on homecoming, has left students with mixed opinions.

“Ha, dollar beers are great. I’m 21–sorry, suckers!,” said Tom Pipala ’03 in response to student criticisms regarding a catered Slope.

Other students disagree.

“I’ve worked hard this year. Don’t I deserve a wine cooler or two?” said Andy Schnitzel ’05.

Cornell Dining will begin meal services at 10:30 a.m., the same time the “official gates” will open to the Slope.

Beer and wine service will begin at 12:30 p.m., while a concert by famed urban artist Fat Joe will take place at 1:30 p.m. and earthy folk band Rusted Root will perform at 3:00 p.m.

“I was gonna get a headstart on studying but, Fat Joe is in town. Let’s party!” said Tom Calahan ’04. “Hopefully, we can hang out after the show.”

To cut down on binge drinking prior to the Slope catering service, “staff will monitor residence halls for alcohol, and fraternity leaders will limit their events to members and guests,” Murphy said.

“As always, we advise students to take responsibility and discourage high-risk drinking. And, of course, we encourage students who have classes on Friday to attend them before coming out to celebrate,” Murphy added.

The Greek system will be making its own preparations for Slope Day.

“All events that are held at fraternity houses are closed to members and their guests, and will be small in size,” said Suzy Nelson, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs. “Our goal in the fraternity and sorority community related to this day is to have a fun and safe celebration.”

In terms of increased regulation, “Ithaca Police and Cornell Police will be monitoring all activity in the Greek system as they have in the past,” according to Nelson. “Students and chapters that are in violation of the law … could be arrested or referred to the Greek judicial system of the Judicial Administrator,” Nelson added.

In an e-mail to all students, Kent Hubbell ’69, dean of students, said, “Thanks to all of you who expressed your views, and to the committees who have sought to incorporate the many student recommendations during the planning process. I am confident this evolving tradition will remain a cherished one for Cornell students.”

In a separate e-mail, President Hunter R. Rawlings III said, “don’t engage in self-destructive behavior, and help your friends celebrate in a life-affirming way. Don’t take the chance of destroying everything you’ve worked for by overindulging in alcohol or other drugs.”

Many students apparently did not take the President’s warning last year.

“Twenty-three students were treated for medical-related injuries [last Slope Day], and almost all had alcohol poisoning,” said Sharon Dittman, associate director for community relations at Gannett: Cornell University Health Services.

In preparation for today’s festivities, Gannett will have “the staffing, equipment, supplies, and connections to take care of intoxicated, injured and ill students,” Dittman said.

Gannett will also be “paying to have extra ambulances on campus in case of serious emergencies” and will have “extra staffing on Slope Day to take care of patient needs,” according to Dittman.

Dittman offered tips to cut down on student injuries.

“Every year, Gannett’s experience and students’ reports indicate that the vast majority of problems students experience on Slope Day are related to alcohol intoxication, including alcohol poisoning, injuries, fights and unwanted sexual contact,” she said.

“Drinking before the event and consuming hard alcohol can increase the risk of these negative consequences,” Dittman added. She recommended avoiding hard alcohol, setting a limit on the number of drinks consumed and pacing yourself with drinks.

“Slope Day is a day to enjoy your friends and be part of the community,” Dittman said. “In that spirit, keep an eye out for each other.”

Despite today’s festivities, some students will only be found in a boarded up Uris Library.

“With exams next week, I’ve only got one thing on my mind,” said Keith Greene ’04. “Hitting the books.”

Archived article by Marc Zawel