President and Dean of Students meet with students about changes in student life

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Patrick Tolosky ’15 opens the Oct. 21 forum on student life by reading a set of recommendations put together by student leaders. The hour-long question and answer session drew hundreds of students (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Bates President Clayton Spencer and Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Joshua McIntosh met in an open forum with students in Memorial Commons of Chase Hall on Tuesday night to discuss student life and campus culture.

Facilitated by Alyssa Morgosh ’15, Bates Student Government president, the hour-long question and answer session drew hundreds of students.

The meeting focused largely on the cancellation of “Trick or Drink,” an event hosted annually by off-campus student houses.

Historically, the parties have drawn hundreds of students into nearby residential neighborhoods, causing disruption and property damage. The cancellation of this event was said by many to be without student consultation, a source of frustration for many students.

Students react during an open forum on student life held in  Memorial Commons on Oct. 21. The hour-long question and answer session drew hundreds of students. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Students react during the open forum on student life held in Memorial Commons on Oct. 21. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

At the forum, McIntosh said that when he first learned about “Trick or Drink,” he discussed the ramifications of the event with members of the Dean of Students staff.

Ultimately, he said, the college “could not in good faith facilitate an event that we know causes harm and serious disruption to our neighbors.”

Patrick Tolosky ’15 opened the forum by reading a set of recommendations put together by a number of student leaders. The group agreed that “Bates College drinking culture needs to change,” Tolosky said, but asked that transparency and student participation be central to any changes going forward.

A student talks with Josh McIntosh, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, at an open forum on student life held in Memorial Commons on Oct. 21. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Alexandra Hakusui ’15 talks with Josh McIntosh, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, at the open forum. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Spencer agreed emphatically with that recommendation, saying students must be part of the solution to a “hard problem” that is confronting “colleges and universities everywhere.”

As Spencer announced at an all-student meeting on this issue last spring, the college is forming a working group of students, faculty and staff to review Bates student life and recommend strategies and policies to reduce high-risk drinking and other substance abuse.

The group will also recommend programming that will include increasing the number and variety of social options available to all students.

When students asked how the membership of this group would be decided, Spencer said the Office of the Dean of Students would be working with Student Government leaders to create a process for the election and appointment of student members to the working group in order to achieve broad representation.

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