Beer, but No Bears at A.S. Garden

    Eleanor Roosevelt College senior Rachel Conrique enjoys her drink at the first A.S. Bear Garden, which event planners could not promote as featuring alcohol. (Hillary Elder/Guardian)

    The first of four Bear Gardens — an offshoot of once-weekly “Thank God It’s Friday” concerts — opened its doors Oct. 20 to a crowd of 550, although a campus policy prohibiting the advertisement of the presence of alcohol at university events hindered desired attendance levels, according to multiple A.S. councilmembers.

    Rather than a concert, the Bear Garden was a penned-in area full of carnival-style booths where students could relax, socialize and enjoy some free food and drinks — or free beer for the over-21 crowd.

    “We just decided to hook up a small PA system for this event because we really decided to do something different [other than the traditional live bands at the old TGIFs],” A.S. Commissioner of Programming Di Lam stated in an e-mail. “The games and the raffle were actually a huge hit and we hope to continue this at future Bear Gardens.”

    One concern for the A.S. Council was the section of UCSD policy that prohibits any publicity of alcohol at UCSD events.

    “What this means is that we cannot write ‘free food, music, beer and fun’ on the publicity,” A.S. President Harry Khanna stated in an e-mail. “We can’t even write ‘21+ bring ID.’ We have to effectively hide the fact that there is going to be alcohol at the event.”

    Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson said he remains a staunch defender of the policy.

    “The policy and regulation exist in order to moderate the emphasis on and abuse of alcohol by students,” Watson stated in an e-mail. “Alcohol should not be the principal reason why students attend an event sponsored by the university.”

    However, according to Eleanor Roosevelt College Senior Senator Erik Rodriguez-Palacios, the UCSD Alumni Association’s Oct. 21 beer garden was publicized in a campuswide e-mail.

    “It’s completely a double standard,” Rodriguez-Palacios said.

    Both Khanna and Lam stated that the policy negatively affected attendance.

    “It was worse that I thought it would be,” John Muir College sophomore Aaron Hassad said. “We’re a pretty big school and there aren’t that many people here.”

    The event was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. but doors opened 40 minutes late, causing some students to leave before the event began. The extra Staff Pro security hired to work the event arrived late because parking spots weren’t reserved for them, according to Graduate Student Association Vice President of Campus Affairs Griffin Brungraber.

    The line moved slowly after the event began and many students were still waiting as late as 4:20 p.m.

    “[In the future there need to be] minor changes such [as] the parking situation to enable an on-time start — also, better publicity,” Brungraber said.

    Regardless, Lam said she was pleased with the event turnout.

    “We expected around 500 to show up at the first Bear Garden, [and] about 550 people showed up,” Lam stated. “The attendance was, in my opinion, perfect for the venue we chose. … I think that as this event builds a better and stronger tradition over the next year, attendance will most definitely increase despite the existing policy.”

    Though the event was called a bear garden, the A.S. Council chose not to have it in front of the Earl Warren College bear, the newest addition to the campus’ Stuart Art Collection.

    “The theme would have flowed better if it were over at the bear garden,” Thurgood Marshall College freshman Amy Chang said.

    Despite these concerns, the bear garden was generally well received.

    “I would like to see more events like this; I think it’s good,” Warren junior Robert Valtierra said. “The school seems to be pretty uptight in general, but this seems very un-UCSD-like.”

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