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eating-clubs

Eating clubs line Prospect Avenue.

Photo Credit: Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Each year, following small-group orientation trips, the eating clubs on Prospect Avenue — or “the Street” — open their doors to the incoming first-year class who join the first parties of the academic year. This year’s “frosh week,” however, will noticeably be absent of “frosh,” who have been preemptively banned by the Interclub Council (ICC) due to safety concerns.

“In response to increasing efforts to support and promote student safety, the Interclub Council, in support of the programmatic goals of Orientation, have formally decided to close the Eating Clubs to first-year students through the end of the formal Orientation program,” the ICC wrote in a statement. “The ICC has asked for support from Orientation leaders to reinforce this message should questions arise during the small-group experience.”

Associate dean for student programs Amanda Zeltner presented this statement to orientation leaders on Wednesday, Aug. 28, during preliminary training sessions for the small-group trips.

This restriction represents an escalation of last year’s temporary frosh ban, which prohibited first-year students from entering eating club parties on the final night of frosh week. In the days prior to the 2018 ban, University Public Safety had evacuated 28 students to either Princeton Medical Center (PMC) or McCosh Health Center for alcohol-related emergencies.

Although the ICC only began enforcing bans on first-year students last year, ICC chair Meghan Slattery ’20 noted that ICC policies have always “officially” restricted first-year students.

“For many years, the clubs have been officially closed to first year students during the orientation period in accordance with GICC [Graduate Interclub Council] and ICC policies,” wrote Slattery in a statement to The Daily Princetonian. “In an effort to improve first year safety and avoid confusion, the ICC wanted to be sure this policy is clearly stated at the start of Orientation programming.”

Slattery emphasized that this restriction was a joint decision between “eating club officers and the Office of Campus Life.”

“There will be plenty of time for incoming students to be welcomed to the clubs at an appropriate time, and they are invited and encouraged to come for Lawnparties on September 15,” Slattery added in her statement.

Wilson College Resident College Adviser (RCA) Alex Wilson ’20 agreed with these measures, explaining that “inexperience with party culture” leaves many first-year students vulnerable to danger. Though she said first-year students shouldn’t be shielded from the University’s party scene, Wilson noted that an “anything goes attitude about frosh week that is unique” persists among eating club events.

“I think it’s really good that first years are barred from frosh week this year,” Wilson told the ‘Prince.’ “I think that frosh week, because of the tone set by upperclassmen, is an event that is actually dangerous to first-years.”

Wilson is a former copy editor for the ‘Prince.’

The ‘Prince’ reached out to incoming first-year students, who were dissatisfied with the preemptive ban and considered it a loss of a University tradition.

“I’m definitely disappointed because I was excited to scope out the eating clubs and have fun with friends,” Lauren Fromkin ’23 said. “I understand where the eating clubs made that decision, but it’s still disappointing.”

The question was also raised if the University would be able to enforce the restriction as a safety measure.

“I’m not interested in just diving into that scene or anything, but I think it’s important to explore those different options and experiences in college,” Larry Giberson ’23 said. “If the University is trying to shut down these things, they’re just going to experience more pushback from the people who are trying to find them.”

A rising sophomore who wished to remain anonymous recounted his own experiences during 2018’s frosh ban, which failed to prevent him from being sent to PMC on the final night of frosh week.

“I had gone to a pregame that was planned in advance before we’d heard about the ban — it was with my CA group, actually,” he told the ‘Prince.’ “We decided to have the pregame anyway, even though no one would go out afterwards.”

The sophomore explained that he became heavily intoxicated and began to vomit at Hoagie Haven later that night, prompting then-seniors at the scene to call Public Safety, who then called an ambulance due to overcrowding in McCosh.

Despite his own experiences with frosh week, the sophomore admitted that a weekend-long frosh ban would likely be successful in keeping first-year students safe.

“I think my circumstances were pretty special because the only reason why I went out at all was because of that pregame,” he said. “None of my other friends had planned that kind of thing that night.”

“I think it should be pretty effective for most kids who aren’t intent on going out that exact weekend,” he added.

The class of 2023 will officially move in on Saturday, Aug. 31, before their small-group trips, which will take place Sept. 2–6.

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