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Letter to the Editor: What college is meant to be?

April 15, 2016

This is in response to the recent decision made by Monmouth College to discontinue affiliation with the senior class beer project.

This project was born out of the principles of marketing class, which challenges students to create a marketing plan that could have the potential to be implemented. This project was looking for ways to improve and work with a local microbrewery in town. Specifically, this one groups project would have involved creating a Senior Class Beer, which would then be served during the Senior Bar Crawl and at later class reunions. It should go without saying that those involved with this project were all of legal age, and well within their rights to be involved with alcohol. The thought behind the class beer project was not to encourage drinking to inebriation, but to create a new tradition and enjoy the art of craft beer culture. Craft beer culture is to only consume a few beers, discussing the various aromas, flavors, and complexity of the beer rather than trying to consume a dozen cheap beers for a “buzz.”

While discussing the cancellation of this project, it came to our attention that there is at least one other, similar project that has been discontinued. Namely, a project in conjunction with the city of Monmouth, the use of The Rivoli theatre in downtown Monmouth — currently underutilized — as a “Brew and View” location. As many of you are unaware of either of these projects, it should be of no surprise that they are currently abandoned. However, directly across the street from the Rivoli sits one of Monmouth’s most recent developments – the Fusion Theater.

So, what separates the Beer Project — whose sponsorship by a local, independent brewery would yield little cost to the College — and the revitalization of the Rivoli Theater — whose development would have been co-captained by local businesses, again cutting the costs to the College — from other ventures, such as the Fusion? Of course, there are the obvious answers: “There are classes held in the Fusion!”, or “The school owned farm can be used to supplement food on campus!” These are perfectly sound, and of course, true. But let’s not beat around the bush – the common thread among the cancelled projects is alcohol no matter how responsibly consumed.

Monmouth College is afraid to associate with alcohol. This is a shame, because the projects snubbed by the college would have been a great boom to the Monmouth Community. The Monmouth College curriculum, through classes such as those in the Integrated Studies, business and entrepreneurship curriculums, encourage students to channel their passions, pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, take educated financial risks and — above all — help rebuild the local community. It would seem that Monmouth’s lack of will to participate in either the Class Beer Project or the Rivoli rebuild directly contradict the mission set forth in the above curriculums.

It is not that we ask for the college to take direct control of these projects, but rather allow the students to explore these avenues. A few back-channel emails and unilateral decisions should not dictate the course of projects; lead by students, whose connection with the college is in name only. We, as a community, should be more open to the possibilities of such ventures – regardless of their association with alcohol.

Monmouth College has the opportunity to greatly influence the climate of Monmouth. Through the participation of our students, we can help to rebuild the community that has hosted our college for nearly 150 years. To do this, we may have to embrace ventures that include alcohol. And that’s all right: Monmouth College prides itself in creating adults that are ready for the “real world”. The “real world” involves alcohol and risky situations … are we ready?

Submitted Anonymously

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