LEE: Blame ourselves for Safety Dance

Just in case midterms have got you living in Bass without any social interaction, let me break it to you now: Safety Dance is no more. When I woke up and saw the headline ‘Safety dance canceled’ blazed across the News’ webpage during the wee hours of yesterday morning, I thought either my lack of sleep had me seeing things or it was just a joke piece that found its way online. Even when I realized it was true, I couldn’t help but feel ambivalent. Who cares? There are other things to do on campus. However, as comments on the article poured in throughout the day, I realized that ambivalence had no place here.

There was much talk about the University’s incoherent drinking policies, potential disciplinary actions against binging and even personal attacks on Master Krauss. But most of the comments were missing the point: the end of Safety Dance is just another episode to remind Yale that all is not well when it comes to drinking and binging. Whether you’re a binger, responsible drinker or as dry as Tim Tebow, eight serious hospitalizations and a fully packed Yale Health in one night is a problem. Treating it as anything else is ignorant denial.

Most student conversations about alcohol at Yale seem to always end up blaming administrators for not doing enough to cultivate a better drinking culture on campus. But Safety Dance wouldn’t be any safer were the administration to pursue a strictly non-disciplinary policy for alcohol-related incidents. Indeed, some University programs aimed at affecting student behavior are laughable, as is the case with the CCE program, which does more to cripple Froyo World’s reputation than anything else. Yale can only do so much to encourage students to make the best decisions for themselves, which makes SAAC’s decision to cancel Safety Dance that much more noble.

Master Krauss made clear yesterday that the decision was one made out of concerns for both liability and student safety. I doubt this is a political statement. Krauss is a nurse by training, making it both her professional responsibility and duty to care for others. It’s apparent what effects she hopes ending Safety Dance will have. Skeptics will respond by arguing that canceling a single dance isn’t going to stop binge drinking. However, there is also no denying that large social events such as Safety, Spring Fling and even The Game encourage a culture of irresponsible behavior unlike that of a regular weekend night out. Whether or not anyone would like to admit it, the fact of the matter is that with the absence of Safety Dance, Yale will have one less night of widespread intoxication every year.

Of course, the solution is not to go ahead and remove every large social event on campus fueled by the naïve hope that binge drinking will suddenly disappear. What we need to do first is fully accept that us overachieving, overcommitted, and over-intoxicated Yalies have a problem. Perhaps the difficulty of doing this lies in the fact that we’re just not used to being told something is wrong. We’re the “successful” ones who made it here. We’re reminded every day of our strengths and places we’ll be able to go, and we’re fed a false illusion daily that everything is fine and dandy because we’re at Yale. As a campus, we need to sober up.

Let’s lay off on blaming the administration. After all, they’re doing it for a reason: Yalies don’t know how to drink, and it’s harming not only the students, but the University’s image as a leader as well. Let’s stop accepting that certain nights will lead to inevitable blackouts. Let’s stop thinking that alcohol is the essential social lubricant for a good time. These attitudes are what led to the end of Safety Dance, and it’s these attitudes that need to go.

Ike Lee is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College. Contact him at ike.lee@yale.edu.

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