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Professors seek to support SODA

November 4, 2011

Adam Ruble/The Courier - Meg Grzenia, Aimee Miller, Everett Wilson and Patrick LeBlanc enjoy SODA festivities over Halloween weekend.

Since coming to campus during the 2009-2010 school year, Students Organized for Drinking Alternatives (S.O.D.A.) has offered weekend activities for students’ entertainment. The group was started for students who wanted to have fun on the weekends in an alcohol-free environment by Monmouth College graduates Derek Keist and Derek Huff (2011).

This year, S.O.D.A. has sponsored two events, most recently over Halloween weekend. S.O.D.A. members are responsible for providing food, decorations, games and prizes for events.

Recently, Fred Witzig, assistant professor of history, decided to show his support for S.O.D.A. by creating Professors Offering to Promote  S.O.D.A. (P.O.P.S.), a group for faculty members who wish  financially support S.O.D.A.

“I wanted to officially support S.O.D.A.,” said Witzig who hopes P.O.P.S. members will support S.O.D.A. by hosting or sponsoring events. According to Witzig, these events take money, which is something he feels faculty would be willing to donate.

 “The faculty sees practical aspects about [S.O.D.A.],” said Witzig. “I wanted to start fundraising for them among faculty.”

So far, professors Stacy Cordery, Judi Kessler and Hannah Schell have all joined Witzig in his efforts to have faculty support S.O.D.A..

According to S.O.D.A.’s co-chairman, junior Patrick LeBlanc, S.O.D.A.’s events are free of charge for students and are usually low-cost.

“We started with $1,000 in our budget this year,” said LeBlanc. “Typically, the only thing we pay for when hosting an event is pizza and S.O.D.A.. This usually costs us about $120.”

S.O.D.A. derives their budget from the Office of Residence Life, headed by Dean Mohsin Masood. Masood recalls S.O.D.A. hosting events in previous years that brought 200 students.

“S.O.D.A. is a wonderful organization,” said Masood. “It is one of the best student-sponsored, student-run organizations, and it gives alternatives for drinking.”

However, S.O.D.A. appeals to a limited demographic. According to LeBlanc, S.O.D.A. only was started to as an alternative to drinking, which attracts certain groups of students on campus, the demographic that S.O.D.A. tries to reach to.

“S.O.D.A. was realized in order to offer students an alternative, not to change their habits,” said LeBlanc. “To change the habits of the entire student body would be a nearly insurmountable, though noble, goal. I take comfort in the fact that S.O.D.A. offers something to the students who do not want to drink their weekends away. This is the demographic that we set out to attract and this is the demographic that we will continue to reach out to.”

However, this demographic does not include a large portion of the student body.

So far, in his efforts, Witzig has contemplated ideas of having faculty members host and promote events which could attract other groups of students.

“I’m treading safely. It’s too early yet,” said Witzig. “I still need to decide if [expanding POPS] is viable.”

Stevie Croisant
Copy/Layout Editor

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