Staff Editorial: events like Oktoberfest affect community perceptions

Two upcoming events at Biola are toned down from off-campus culture to try to maintain campus community, but it’s not the best idea.

Chimes Staff, Writer

Biola prides itself on its image, on being a beacon of light to La Mirada and the world. We, as a community, try to set a positive example. Our contract holds us to stricter, higher standards of behavior than we will probably maintain throughout our lives as a means of dedicating this time of our lives to learning about God and growing more Christ-like to the best of our ability. Why, then, would Biola label events with names that have definite, long-standing alcoholic connotations?

To kick off the Biola athletics season, there’s Midnight Madness. But about two weeks before there’s Midnight Madness, there’s Fall Ball and Tailgate. At this event, the Caf shuts down and eating relocates to the parking lot. Beyond Biola, though, tailgating evokes images of barbecues, beer-packed coolers and stadiums overflowing with drunken fans. Sure, some emphasize hot dogs over cold drafts, but for most, the two go hand-in-hand.

Oktoberfest is a globally-celebrated German festival dedicated to beer … except at Biola. The Year of the Arts teamed up with Bon Appetit to provide, a “traditional autumn celebration [that] ushers in the arrival of the hearty eating season with food to warm us from the inside out,” describes the web page. On said web page, Year of the Arts chose to illustrate the event with a photo of the backside of old men in lederhosen — likely because typical photos of Oktoberfest attendants and activities aren’t as contract-friendly. While bratwurst and soup will likely replace the brew, the alcoholic correlations will be inseparable in the minds of many dining.

To be sure, only a small population on campus might be disappointed when Oktoberfest and the tailgate turn up dry. In fact, perhaps some don’t even associate these events with the worldlier approaches to their namesakes. But, in the end, it’s about staying true to our image. Is it worth borrowing terms from the world just for marketing purposes, even though it may confuse others? What are parents of prospective students going to think without a more full explanation or context of what the misnomered events imply? What about possible donors? No real ground is gained when using these terms in the context of our community.

But, there’s a further concern. When administration places a stamp of approval, whether express or implied, on events that stretch the boundaries of community standards, the campus culture changes.

This isn’t to say that next year there will in fact be alcohol at either of these events. That is a different topic altogether. However, what might change is perception; what students will find acceptable to allude to, flirt with or express. A pseudo-beer culture paints the campus community as tritely naive. It’s as if we’re pretending to imitate the world, without a few essential qualities. Like zombie Halloween costumes at “Hallelujah Parties,” we’ve managed to simply neuter the worldly event rather than distinguish our culture above the influence.

The university is not out to claim alcohol is evil, or that all Christians should abstain from drinking all the time. But, with contractual obligations in mind, doesn’t this trend in food-focused events seem prevaricating? These names carry very distinct, very well known connotations. Is the cultural nod worth the double entendre?

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