September 12, 2003

S.A. Creates 'Student Voice' for Slope Day

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Last night, the Student Assembly passed a series of resolutions to restructure the organizations responsible for planning Slope Day, a move they hope will give students a stronger bargaining position with the administration over the future of the long-standing tradition. The new resolutions created the Slope Day Programming Board, to be comprised of students, and also augmented the previously existing Slope Day Steering Committee with additional student involvement.

Under the new plans, the old Slope Fest organization will be transformed into the programming board, which will be responsible for making choices regarding catering and musical entertainment. The board will meet cooperatively with the University’s logistics committee, an arrangement which the S.A. believes will better address the concerns of both the administration and the student body. The steering committee has changed also; it will be comprised of the heads of the programming board and logistics committee and will now be chaired by a student.

“The role of this new organization is to be a student voice that the administration really recognizes, listens to and works with,” said S.A. president Nick Linder ’05. “It’s beneficial that both parties talk rather than one talking and one yelling.”

The new resolutions are partly a reaction to last year’s Slope Day, which some S.A. representatives saw as unprecedented in the extent of administration control. Slope Day has long been a contentious issue for students and the administration, with competing demands for both the attendees’ freedom and supervision to limit liability on the part of the University.

“Slope Day has always been a changing entity,” said S.A. executive vice president Stephen Blake ’05, who authored the resolutions. “We can’t tell [the administration] what to do. We can recommend and negotiate.”

Despite the new measures, some representatives felt that more remained to be done in order to put control of Slope Day back into the hands of students. David Skolnik ’05 urged the S.A. to consider more direct action, reminding his fellow members that many of them had run on a platform of preserving Slope Day.

“This resolution is definitely a step in the right direction,” he said, “[but] I think the face of Slope Day has to be changed back to the way it used to be.”

Several representatives felt that while the increased regulation of last year’s Slope Day led to less injuries at the event, it was countered by a rise in residence hall injuries as well as an increased pressure on the Greek system, which was overwhelmed by students looking to consume alcohol off the Slope.

“The administration has to realize that the liability has been completely put on the Greek system,” Skolnik said. “The injuries have actually increased. It’s become more dangerous being regulated.”

But a return to the relatively unsupervised Slope Day of years past may be unrealistic, according to Blake.

“If you consider the original idea of Slope Day as unfettered drinking on the Slope, then I’d say that concept has been lost … because it’s simply illegal,” Blake said. “I’d argue that the original concept of Slope Day, the [one] founded by Willard Straight as ‘Spring Day’ that goes back as far as 1901, is a … celebration of the year. That’s the direction that we’d like to point it in.”

S.A. vice president of internal operations Dena Ruebusch ’04 praised the S.A.’s intention to revive the concept of Slope Fest, an alcohol-free event to complement Slope Day, which was absent last year.

“I think the non-alcoholic piece is a very important part of Slope Day, even if you just put your beer down for one hour and go in there and have a little bit of fun,” Ruebusch said. “Slope Fest was a lot of fun two years ago, and it was definitely missed last year. You can’t just crack down on alcohol and not provide an alternative.”

The removal of Slope Fest from last spring’s Slope Day effectively froze a sum of $23,000 which would have gone toward the alternative celebration, although it will now be available to this year’s planners. The funding, which was designated for use only on an event in West Campus, went unused because the University did not have the resources to staff both events.

Archived article by Jeff Sickelco