Homecoming party to serve alcohol despite last year's concerns

By Tejay Cleland, Guest Writer

Last year’s Homecoming after party didn’t go quite as organizers in Newman’s Student Life office had hoped, and when two incidents involving intoxicated students were reported after the event, they said they’d have to seriously consider whether to serve alcohol at an on-campus student event again.

They considered it - and even surveyed students asking them what they wanted. In the end, said Joseph Shepard, Newman’s director of multicultural engagement and student life, the office decided to serve alcohol at this year’s party, which is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. tonight in the Jabara Black Box Theatre.

But they made a few changes from last year, the main one being that only wine and beer will be served. Last year, mixed drinks were also an offering.

“We really want to make sure that we address any risk factors and mitigate those risks to ensure that every student that walks through the door gets home safely,” Shepard said.

At tonight’s party, students 21 and older will be allowed to order three drinks each.

Earlier this month, Student Life e-mailed a survey to students asking whether they would prefer an after party off campus or on campus and whether their attendance would be dependent on alcohol being served.

After gathering and analyzing the responses, the office decided to go forward with the on -campus party but to eliminate hard alcohol.

“We were listening to some of the students who gave us feedback,” Shepard said. “A lot of the feedback was very authentic with people saying that they didn’t feel comfortable with their peers having access to those types of libations.”

But the office also wanted to consider those students who wanted to enjoy a drink at the event, he said.

“We also understand what it's like to be a 21-year-old student and want to have access to those libations, so we're offering beer and wine this year because we feel that that gives students who are 21-plus the opportunity to drink, but it's not a mixed cocktail with a high alcohol percentage,” he said.

After last year’s party, Newman Director of Security Morris Floyd reported that a female student was so intoxicated before the event ended that she had to be carried to a friend’s room by a security officer.

Security also found an intoxicated male student sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle in a campus parking lot an hour and a half after the party’s 1 a.m. end time. Security had him stay on campus until he sobered up around 6 a.m.

Both students lived off campus.

If a student is in need of a ride home after tonight’s party, Shepard said, the university will provide them with one. There will also be security on site the night of to help prevent drinking and driving.

Tonight’s party will also feature a live DJ as well as food, including items from Buffalo Wild Wings. If you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, the door price is $15.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Advancement