For those who find themselves blissfully unaware, last week the Carletonian revealed a set of changes to our yearly tradition we so love and adore: Rotblatt. Gone are the days where Rotblatt was truly a celebration of Carleton’s life from sunrise to sunset. Now we are only able to drink from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., ruining the one single rule that Rotblatt has had since its inception: drink in hand, always. The committee in charge of Rotblatt is no longer allowed to solicit donations from alumni unless the alumni approach them first (alumni, please re-read that sentence). What used to be a well-funded event will now suffer in quality because Carleton does not want their precious money pots—I mean alumni—to feel in any way tied to this so treacherous event. But of course, Rotblatt will still have a slight presence in Carleton’s admissions material. The administration wants us, the student body, to settle for whatever butchered version of Rotblatt they deem feasible for marketing purposes while keeping their personal responsibility as small as possible.
Like many rule changes in the past year, I’m sure Carleton would want you to believe that these changes are in the name of COVID-19. We live in a COVID-19 ‘normalcy’ where we blindly accept restrictions that are introduced in the name of public safety. Let’s not be ridiculous though, most of these regulations are perfectly sane and needed, but an emphasis on the word most is necessary. This won’t stop the college from instituting completely irrelevant changes, taking advantage of the situation. A similar thing happened last fall, when the college made the decision to restrict student OneCard access to residential buildings apart from one’s own. While this decision was made in the name of COVID-19, it was a decision that had been debated years prior. Where the rest of us saw a pandemic and strict regulation, the Administration saw an opportunity. Thankfully, students did not give in (or perhaps the college did not feel strongly enough about it) and the changes were not permanent.
If you don’t believe that this is completely unrelated to ‘pressing necessity’ in regard to the pandemic, then allow me to demonstrate. These changes are not new. Some of them were once introduced in 2014, but students fought back. An anonymous student started a Change.org petition titled “Rotblatt is an organic, living celebration of the life, freedom and humanity of our unique Carleton community. Stop the changes now!” and garnered over a thousand signatures from students and alumni alike. The changes were not implemented then, but it appears as if the college remains dedicated to making these happen eventually. As the petition also mentions, this is part of a larger effort for the college to absolve themselves of institutional responsibility for events that involve alcohol. Sorry, Carleton, but no matter how much you would want it to be so, banning kegs on campus and heavily restricting alcohol at the Cave will not help your liability and image issues (especially concerning Title IX cases). If I were you, I’d be ready to assign blame to the ineptitude of the college’s processes concerning sexual assault and harassment. These issues run far deeper than student drinking and are institutional at their core.
This is past the beginning of the end, and if we let them, the administration will continue to take advantage of the fact that about 75% of students on campus have never experienced Rotblatt and many other traditions, and they will introduce the changes they see fit because, quite frankly, we don’t know better. And with two years of COVID-19 regulations, we are supposed to be ‘thankful’ for whatever we can get.
I’m good, though.