Culture shock

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

On Monday we recommended all tickets to Sex Power God and other events include the disclaimer: “Organizers reserve the right to refuse entry to the obviously or dangerously impaired.” However, according to Queer Alliance, a disclaimer reserving the right to refuse admittance to attendees for any reason – including intoxication – is already handed out with each Sex Power God ticket sold.

Our editorial also stated that student organizers should be trained to turn dangerously inebriated students away from the party. In fact, Sex Power God party managers were instructed in a pre-party meeting to turn away overly intoxicated students, according to Queer Alliance.

But despite such disclaimers and trained door managers, more than 30 students attending the party required medical attention, according to Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services David Greene. Moreover, the party’s screening process allowed Fox News producer Jesse Watters – a man wearing a sweatshirt and long pants at the half-naked affair – to enter the party with a video camera and obtain footage that was aired on “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night.

Clearly, the party’s current safeguards are not sufficient.

While Sex Power God is not representative of normal drinking patterns at Brown, the party is an important part of our culture, and simply canceling the event is not the solution. But if the trademark party is to survive this weekend’s dangerous and public consequences, decisive changes must be made.

The University has already taken the first step toward achieving such changes. In an e-mail to undergraduates Sunday, Greene wrote that the University is to begin an immediate review of the weekend’s events. But for such an effort to succeed, the University will need to look beyond written policy.

A disclaimer needs to be more than just words on a ticket – it needs to be a stringently upheld standard. There is a distinct difference between policies that exist as mere formalities and policies that students know will be enforced.

Moreover, the responsibility lies with students to prove we can look out for each other at our own events. Party planners and party-goers alike need to be aware that by allowing Sex Power God’s culture of pre-party binge drinking to continue, they are putting both students and the tradition itself at great risk. Only if students and administrators acknowledge each others’ concerns and work together to curb the excessive binge drinking associated with Sex Power God can the party remain an enduring component of the University’s unique culture.