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"My college pays for my beer" and other Claremont McKenna almost-half-truths

December 13, 2008

by The Forum

Tomorrow is December 15th, a very important day in the lives many future CMCers-- Claremont Mckenna's Early Decision Round I Notification Day(!!). The Class of 2013 will be here sooner than you think. Oh, the memories that will come, the WOA cliques that will form... In the meantime, the college-bound teen demographic will swarm to websites like,, and to live vicariously through the typed experiences of real live CMC students.

Eager little aspiring CEOs, politicians, and entrepreneurs will look at first-hand reviews of CMCers raving that "all of our alcohol is paid for by the school," or "everyone parties on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays," and even a bold "we're conservative; we come from wealthy families."  The impressionable 17 and 18-year-olds will picture themselves floating around North Quad on a mild Thursday night in February with Rainbow sandals on their feet, popped collars on their necks, and beer helmets on their heads-- not for protection from beer-- but because a beer helmet must be what every suave CMCer wears when he isn't chanting "Puck Fomona," studying for a "leadership" class, or fighting for the enactment of libertarian tax policies...

But let's talk about the alcohol misconception for now:

Claremont McKenna College does not pay for students' alcohol.  Never has, never will.  Not one penny of the money you or your parents pay to CMC goes toward the purchase of alcohol for students.

It's a fun myth to perpetuate, and it's easy to close our eyes, tap our feet, and hope it's not too good to be true, but we should practice some restraint when boasting about how fly CMC is to our friends (and especially to Stags and Athenas-to-be).

1. As CMC gains a national and international reputation (thanks largely to the internets), we have a chance to shape our school's image as never before. It used to be that a college or university's PR department took care of its public image, but now and in the future we will be increasingly defined more by our people than our marketing.  Student-created websites, blogs, and reviews are what people trust for unbiased information.  Over 50% of students who apply to CMC have never visited the campus.  Where do you think they get their information from? It probably starts with "The Google."

2. When asked by the Admission Office why they didn't attend CMC, around 1 of 10 high school students who were admitted to CMC but did not enroll listed excessive alcohol and partying at CMC as part of their reason for going elsewhere. While this is crazy (we probably don't party harder than wherever those students ended up), this is a growing issue that is angering some of the "higher-ups" and the "really higher-ups" at CMC.

3. Our unfortunate(?) spot in the top ten "Lots of Beer" schools list by Princeton Review doesn't help us in any way.  If anything, it gives us false confidence and makes us think we can out-drink a UCSB frat (don't try it).  It also hurts the trustees, administration, faculty, and students' reputations and puts us in jeopardy.  Sure, Princeton Review is wrong (compare us to any big state school, Ivy League school, or even the other Claremont Colleges), but perceptions do matter.

4. Our administration's trust and leniency is a privilege, not a right. Let's not abuse it too much.

The truth about alcohol at parties:

ASCMC, a non-affiliated, not-for-profit corporation (501c3) charged with improving student life at CMC, fundraises money to pay for refreshments at some parties.  Alcohol expense represents less than 3% of ASCMC's operating budget.

ASCMC is entirely student-run. Most of ASCMC's operating expenses are financed by student fees, but alcohol is paid for entirely by fundraising (t-shirt sales, advertising revenue, yearbooks, etc). Student fees go toward things like clubs, madrigals, study breaks during finals week, IPTV, non-alcohol party expenses, etc. The full list is here if you're interested.


Have a good finals week and rage when you're done.  What happens at CMC stays at CMC (unless it happens with a Scrippsie).  Be good.

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