Daily Rage Vol.6: Double Standards on Alcohol
AUBG has a strong policy which regulates the use and the consumption of alcohol, as well as the inappropriate promotional posters and events. Words such as “alcohol”, “booze”, “free beer”, and logos of venues where events are to be located, should not be present on any poster. By doing this, the university takes responsibility for potential incidents and for the good image of the institution. Why was then an official wine tasting event organized by AUBG about a month ago? Doesn’t wine count as alcohol?
Paragraph 2.5 of the AUBG Policy Manual states that the “use of alcoholic beverages in residence halls, not controlled through Dining Services or the Office of Residence Life and Housing, will be considered not in compliance with campus policies.” Moreover, according to it, the purchasing of alcohol with university funds should be “restricted to University-sponsored events.”
It seems to me that this is a carefully thought rule which made an official wine tasting on the premises of the university possible. Just a couple of years after the ban on posters which hint at the use of alcoholic beverages, the wine tasting event suggests a hypocritical move from the administration.
The problem comes from the loopholes in the policy. They allow for interpretation making it possible for the organizers to catergorize any event as they wish.
For instance, the policy states that alcohol can be consumed at social events. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of the word “social” is “relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other.” Therefore, every event with more than one person can be considered a social one.
On another instance, the policy says that alcohol can be consumed at cultural events. Being cultural, again according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, means to be “of or relating to a particular group of people and their habits, beliefs, traditions, etc.” We all know that AUBG takes pride in its diversity, in bringing together people from “more than 40 nationalities.” Hence, we can consider every event as more or less cultural.
Then why is there a problem and where does it come from?
To be fair, the minimal amount of alcohol consumed at a wine tasting can’t get anyone drunk. The tasting was intended to be more or less “educational” as the pairing of various types of wine with different kinds of food is an essential part of the etiquette every future leader of the world should be aware. The access to the event was limited and people who wanted to enlighten themselves had to pay a fee. There were no emails about it and the Facebook event was not widely announced.
Meanwhile, posters which include words such as alcohol, beer, and names of local venues are still banned. I tried to reach the administration, but at the time of writing this piece, I still had not received an answer by Lydia Krise, the Dean of Students and Lucia Miree, the Dean of Faculty.
As a student living in the dormitories, I can confirm that this ban caused nothing in the life of students to change. Alcohol is still a thing in the world inside and out of AUBG. People still drink. If the administration cares about students’ health and well-being, why does it limit its actions to banning the word “alcohol” only? Is this measure enough and did the ban really prove to be useful?
The posters for the party organized by Erasmus students were exhibited on the doors of elevators the day before the party. They were not stamped and were obviously not written according to the rules of language and format, depicting the venue of the party and the words “free alcohol.” Hence, they were removed later. However, many people attended it.
Yet, there might be some explanations why the university is so strict about its ban on some posters, but then offers its Student Center for a wine tasting to take place.
Dragomir Kyosev, president of the AUBG Olympics, said that it is “completely normal” for the university to have a policy against the use of alcohol and promotion of events which consist mainly of drinking alcohol. It was never a problem that there was beer at some of the events of the club, “maybe because of its modest amount,” Kyosev said.
Still, he believes that the people from the university who organized the event, whose main purpose was for people to sample and consume alcohol, went against their own rules. “Maybe,” Kyosev said, “just like the regulation on consumption of alcohol at club events is somewhat loose, it is also lenient when it comes to events organized by the administration. This way, both students are satisfied and the university gets some income.”
Maria Tsvetkova, sales director of Radio AURA, said many of the radio’s posters were rejected because of this regulation on words used for promotion of events. She believes it is not right to advertise alcohol and emphasize on drinking, but there is “nothing wrong” with mentioning the name of a local club.
“Alcohol is not heroin, it is not a taboo, and there is no need for such strict measures to be taken against it. After all, we are students,” Tsvetkova said. “Let’s get high together, free joints are offered, is one thing, but not being allowed to say you can get a free shot at Graffiti is just too much.”
To convey her opinion, Rozafa Maliqi, co-president of More Honors, rephrased the mission statement of the university as follows:
“The mission of the American University in Bulgaria is to prevent students of alcoholic potential from creating a community of chugging excellence, liqueur diversity, and bartender respect, in order to prepare them for democratic and ethical censorship, as well as for future regulatory hypocrisies they will encounter in the region and the world.”
Maliqi believes it is necessary for the university to ban the promotion of alcohol on campus but the ban is not the main issue. Clubs keep on organizing events and promoting them online. “Good luck with censoring that,” Maliqi said. In her opinion, the administration of the university should engage in raising awareness about the effects of alcohol consumption, if it really wants to make a difference. Instead, the administration, Maliqi believes, fails to lead by example and implements double standards. The wine tasting would have been more acceptable if the staff wasn’t so strict about posters and appropriate language. “Maybe AUBG has a bigger problem with alcohol than students do. Maybe an intervention is in order?” Maliqi said.
Mario Grachenov, president of the Student Government, said that the members of SG had different opinions about the issue so he wanted to express his own. He sees the organization of such an event as a double standard. “I was absolutely disappointed when I saw the promotional posters around ABF,” he said. The process of approving or rejecting posters is someone’s job and there are certain regulations about it. “How will [this person] react next time when I go and ask them for an approval of my poster? I am curious to see,” Grachenov added.
Grachenov and Maliqi mentioned a promotion of a beer that took place two years ago in BAC and ABF. Students couldn’t ignore such an opportunity. They commented on the controversial event and there was a backlash but “the administration just shrugged it off, claiming they had not been notified that the event was going to happen,” Maliqi said.
“More Honors made a video to mock the event and after that the lady who was in charge was not a member of the administration anymore. I am curious what the difference between these two events is,” Grachenov added.
A concerned member of the AUBG community who wished to remain anonymous said he agrees on a ban on posters, promotion of events at which alcohol is consumed, and use of alcohol on campus “but the ban should be for all, and events organized by the administration should be consistent with it too.” He said he wouldn’t feel comfortable putting an unacceptable poster if he knew no one else would. “In a university where there are courses in ethics, they don’t give us examples of such a thing in real life,” he added. He believes students should have a say in policy changes.
So, it turns out that it is normal for the university to host an event where alcohol is encouraged to be consumed, but it is wrong for students to mention particular words and names of clubs. It seems like by banning certain rhetoric the problems which the administration seeks to root out won’t be eliminated. Due to the prohibition, if not with unregulated posters, students emphasize on social media promotion which reaches an even wider audience than a couple of posters would do. To me the ban seems quite useless and unfair. The rights and the obligations should be equal for both students and administration.