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Winthrop HoCo Announces Debauchery Dance
October 24th evening is Debauchery Dance, the age-old event in the Winthrop Dining Hall, where the theme is--aptly--debauchery, ribaldry and drunken fits. Everybody is given 10 Debauchery bills on entry to the fest, and by the end of the night, whoever possesses the most bills wins a prize--this year, it's a gigantic box full of condoms. To obtain these bills from other Debauchery attendants, one must perform certain acts and rituals for a price...however, this year the barnyard animals must stay in the coat room. Liquor--lots of it--will be served for those 21 and over, but that drunken spirit will float through the air, Friday, October 24th.
Winthrop Masters Respond
It is with great sadness that we received the announcement for the October 24th House Committee sponsored event, Debauchery. Since it was sent in the form of an addendum to W@W [Week at Winthrop, the house's weekly newsletter], we want to clarify that its appearance in that form does not imply our consent to the spirit or contents of the announcement. To the contrary. The fact is that we, in the wake of the MIT tragedy, have spent hours--in a monthly meeting of the Masters, in the Masters' docket committee on which Paul serves and last night in an extended meeting of the tutors--discussing our deep concerns for the health and safety of the students of John Winthrop House. To drink alcohol to excess is to court serious injury and death. It is to abet sexual assaults and other physical violence. It can adversely affect academic and athletic performance. It can ruin promising careers and lead to profound personal tragedy.
We were shocked and dumbfounded to receive a message describing a Winthrop House event in terms of "drunken fit," "barnyard animals" and "liquors--lots of it." The behavior implied is in clear violation of College-wide policy. It cannot be condoned in any House event. But more seriously, it brings with it the worst nightmares of House Masters: the call at 4 a.m. to rush to Holyoke Center, because a young woman has choked in bed on her vomit and died; or a young man has fallen from a balcony after drinking excessive amounts of beer and is on life-support.
We are not against good parties. We will be attending this one, as will the tutors. We are not against students who are over 21 engaging in social drinking alcohol. But responsibility and care for one's own health and decency cannot be thrown to the wind in drunken fits and must be opposed by caring fellow student and tutorial staff alike. Animal house activity is also non-inclusive, for it discourages attendance by students who are offended, as we are, by the sexually-debasing innuendoes in the announcement. We deeply regret that the message was sent out in the first place. But since it has been, we can only respond with an honest statement of our position. We shall insist that the party be conducted with proper decorum and above all with attention to the safety of all participants. The end result of this exchange will be salutary if it fosters discussion on a critically important topic and leads to a safer, more fun-filled party on October 24.
Paul D. Hanson and Cynthia Rosenberger Masters, Winthrop House
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