In an effort to ensure a safer student body and campus, Bowdoin's Residential Life and Security staffs have teamed up this year to conduct pre-party checks at registered campus events.
At the beginning of each party, security officers meet with event hosts to check on registered alcoholic beverages, ensure adequate quantities of food and non-alcoholic drinks, identify any fire and safety issues, and answer any questions the hosts have.
"The major goal is to make sure that party hosts really understand their responsibilities when agreeing to host an event for their peers and to take the precautions seriously," said Director of Residential Life Kim Pacelli. "It's important to run the events well and safely, and to catch and address any problems in a proactive way."
Event hosts in previous years were given a checklist of procedures and regulations at the beginning of each party, and security officers would stop by throughout the night. However, Director of Security Randy Nichols said that it could be difficult to find event and alcohol hosts during parties, and suggested that meeting beforehand could establish better communication.
"The good thing about this is that it gives the security officers on duty a chance to meet the event and alcohol hosts face to face," Nichols said. "They share ideas, talk about the event, and get to know each other. Later, when the officers come back, they know who they're dealing with and who to go to."
So far, Nichols and Pacelli agreed that the inspections on campus have been a success.
"By and large, the checks have gone really well," said Pacelli. "I think the policy has helped convey to students the importance of these precautions that we have. It reinforces the importance of making sure that students are running the event well. They also appreciate the opportunity to correct issues in advance."
Any problems that do arise before a party are usually dealt with on the spot. Security would find the student responsible for a particular offense, take the student's information to report to the dean's office, and allow the party to continue.
After the initial pre-party check, security officers make one or two random stops throughout the course of the night. During subsequent visits, officers want to ensure that the tone of the event is appropriate, without high-risk behavior or excessive drinking.
Nichols said that security's goal is not to make a scene at the parties, but to prevent out-of-control situations and ensure safety.
"We want to let the hosts all know that we're there and available to help them deal with tough situations, not to shut the event down. If there are problems, the hosts should call us early and often," he said.
Nichols emphasized the fact that Security wants successful, safe events. He said that sometimes town residents may infiltrate a party or a student may show up to a party highly intoxicated, creating disturbances or threats. In either situation, he said, Security can escort the subject out safely and bring the situation back under control.
"We want to be non-confrontational," Nichols said. "Students that have the responsibility of managing events want the advice based on our past experiences. We want them to know to not be afraid. If things start spinning out of control, the hosts won't get in trouble."
Jessica Korsh '09, programming chair of Quinby House, said that a recent pre-party check worked well.
"I'm glad that they gave us the heads-up that they would come by during the event and that they checked everything beforehand," Korsh said.
"It was good to see that Randy and Security was on our side and ready to support us, and to know that we could call Security if there was a problem," she said.
K.J. Kozens '08, treasurer of Baxter House, was not as enthusiastic about security's visit before the House's annual graffiti party.
"I thought the pre-party check was a bad idea," Kozens said. "They were doing their jobs, but it was unnecessary. They should've waited until there was an issue to come check on the party."
"Their visit is under the assumption that they don't trust us to begin with," he said.
Pacelli said that she welcomes suggestions and feedback from students in order to improve the pre-party checks, but expects them to remain part of Bowdoin's policy.
Nichols agreed, and said that the checks are a good way for students, officers, deans, and residential life staff to work together.
"It takes a lot to manage one of these events and a lot of times hosts have their hands full," he said. "But still, they need to do everything in their power to do everything legally and according to college policy and it's our job to help them do that. We want them to take their responsibility seriously and have a good handle on what resources are available."