The drinking culture surrounding Dandelion Day has escalated to unsafe levels in recent years. In an effort to disassociate the day from alcohol, the administration has launched a plan to increase the budget for activities while moving the celebrations from the Saturday before the final week of classes to the preceding Friday. This break from tradition is part of a well-intentioned attempt to limit the dangers of drinking.
However, these adjustments are unlikely to change attitudes about D-Day in just one year and moving the date to a Friday is inconsiderate to student schedules. The drinking mentality is too enmeshed in students’ conceptions of the day for these perceptions to radically shift in the month and a half before April.
In fact, the choice to hold the festival on a Friday could be counterproductive if students choose to extend their celebrations into time normally spent on classes or studying. Although the administration has claimed that festivities will not coincide with classes, many students see the decision to hold the day on a Friday as an excuse to continue celebrating over the weekend. As a result of this expected backlash, the administration’s efforts are unlikely to have the intended effect of bringing D-Day back to its roots as a time to celebrate University traditions in a safe and fun way.
It is possible that, in years to come, D-Day will evolve to have a more traditional focus that is less centered on substance abuse, but the administration’s current decision — made particularly untimely given the recent spate of student outcry over the bar bus moratorium, despite claims that the circumstances are unrelated — is unwise.
Instead, attempts to change the drinking culture should focus on expanding the choice of activities for D-Day without moving it to a Friday. Last year’s headlining concert — Super Mash Bros. — was not an attractive option and left students with little to do besides party or drink. Therefore, the decision to increase spending on D-Day is a good solution. Bringing in a better-known band and providing carnival games could offer welcome alternatives.
However, hosting the events on Friday is problematic as it will distract students from classes, work and extracurricular commitments. Moreover, leaving Saturday unoccupied practically assures continued student drinking.
This decision is the result of valid intentions, but, in practice, it will only exacerbate the alcohol problem and will place students in a position that is even more conducive to destructive decisions.