“Wake up!” my apartment mate yelled at 7:30 a.m. on the morning of April 6. “It’s Pig Roast!”
Music began playing on our little speaker and slowly, but excitedly, everyone emerged from their rooms with a yawn and a smile. Our last Pig Roast as students was bittersweet, and not only because it marked less than four weeks until we graduated.
Two days before Pig Roast, the entire university received an email from Deans Boehman and Genoni. Because Pig Roast is a day on which students wake up early to start drinking, hoping to be intoxicated shortly after they finish breakfast and intending to stay intoxicated all day, it’s nothing short of a massive liability for our school.
“We are writing to you because we are aware of the potential for students to over-indulge before, during, and after the actual event,” the email states. “Our hope is that students who choose to participate in this event do so responsibly and safely – that you have a good time, [and] are responsible in your choices to consume alcohol ...”
In the same email, the deans reminded students that any event with alcohol on campus would not be tolerated. They warned that police would have a heavy presence, and that consequences for violations included university probation and would "likely result in eviction from the apartments."
The Pig Roast alcohol rule is not new. However, fraternity lodges, once open to all, are now invite-only. To attend a lodge, a student needs to be on its guest list, which has a strict 3:1 guest-to-brother ratio.
Because lodges are the only on-campus Pig Roast events with alcohol, students without their name on a lodge's guest list were left with two options: to go to the school-provided tent, which was entirely dry, or to choose to drink with the threat of eviction hovering over their heads.
I want to be clear: I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to limit drinking on Pig Roast, as it is a day that can quickly get out of hand. But I think the way the event was set up this year punishes and further excludes students unable to get on a lodge list. Our campus has never said it was entirely dry, so I don’t understand why there wouldn’t be an on-campus option to drink for those so inclined.
I dislike saying that the university needed to provide students of legal age with alcohol to get them to attend the party under the tent or to make the day “fun.” I consider alcohol an accessory to fun, not the fun itself. But I do think they should’ve given students of age the option to drink somewhere, even in a limited way, on campus.
Because of the limited options, many of my classmates and I celebrated Pig Roast off campus. The lodge lists don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the university itself, but by keeping the same rules regarding alcohol on campus while also enforcing the new lodge policy, the administration made Uber a constant feature of the day.
Given that Pig Roast occurred just one week after a female University of South Carolina student was killed because she was intoxicated and taken advantage of by a man impersonating her Uber driver, I think having Pig Roast off campus made it far more dangerous.
In past Pig Roasts, every student, intoxicated or not, wandered past police officers, free water and free food -- all of which were available to us if we needed them. In the worst-case scenario, our beds were only as far away as a walk across campus rather than a drive through the city.
By banning alcohol on campus, even for a day, we also create a stigma around it. Alcohol shouldn’t be something students have to hide in their dorms or apartments. Although underage drinking is illegal, we’d all be better off if drinking weren’t something we were scared to admit we’d done.
In my time at the University of Richmond, I have grown a lot. So much of this growth was possible because of the security the campus itself provided.
As a senior, there isn’t a thing I’d change about my college experience. UR is nothing short of the best decision I ever made. This story isn’t intended to be one about how “unfair” or “annoying” it was that Pig Roast was different this year because of the lodge lists, or, worse, a critique of an administration that helped make my four years here some of the best I’ve ever had.
Rather, I want this piece to convey how important it is to recognize the worth of having students, even intoxicated ones, on campus rather than off of it.
Because I know UR is a university that cares about its students above all else, I hope that for future Pig Roasts, the campus administration will demonstrate its compassion for its students by restructuring the rules to accommodate every student.
Contact contributor Maddie Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.