On Feb. 4, all John Carroll University student organization presidents and advisors were notified that organizational fundraisers are no longer allowed at venues where the majority of the revenue for the business comes from alcohol sales, but social events with alcohol will still be permitted.
The decision was made by the Office of Student Activities during the fall 2013 semester, and was created with the intent to put it into effect in the spring of 2014.
One of the banned venues is Jake’s Speakeasy, located inside of Pizzazz On the Circle.
In the past, JCU Veterans Club, Relay for Life, sorority and fraternity fundraisers and various other organizations have held fundraisers at Jake’s.
According to the notification sent to the student organizations, the change was made “to reduce risk for students and better align our practices with our [JCU’s] values.”
Lisa Ramsey, director of student activities, was one of the key contributors to the policy change.
“The reasoning behind it was really just because we just feel that having fundraising for – let’s say the Gathering Place – if there’s a fundraiser where the proceeds are gathered from alcohol consumption, we just feel like that doesn’t really align with the values of John Carroll,” said Ramsey. “We don’t want groups to raise money off the backs of alcohol sales.”
JCU has been a supporter to and landlord of Pizzazz for the past 20 years.
Mark Forristell, a manager at Pizzazz, was made aware of the change in policy by a student passing through the restaurant in early February. Later, he was notified by the Office of Student Activities.
“We try to work with John Carroll, so we have a really good rapport with them. We don’t want to hurt that at all,” Forristell said. “We wish that we could still set up and provide a venue for JCU organizations to do those events. Some of them had over a hundred people come to them, and it’s a part of John Carroll. It’s unfortunate that it has to be like this.”
Junior Lambda Chi Alpha member Sam Braun felt the policy was unnecessary as long as the school’s procedures and national fraternity guidelines for planning events and fundraising were followed.
“We’ve donated in the past to Women United, and this year we are donating to Feeding America, which is our national philanthropy,” said Braun. “I think that we usually raise a lot of money for that, so I don’t see where the issue is if we want to donate it to a national philanthropy. For the past two years, for the Mardi Gras event, we followed all of the procedures. We’ve had a couple of police officers there; we’ve never had an incident. We do sober monitors and I think almost every person in our organization stays sober for the event.”
In the past, similar to social events, fundraising events with alcohol were permitted, but the organization had to fill out a social event planning form. Part of the protocol for an event under JCU is that it must have security, wristbands for underage attendants and an advisor present.
“Since we’ve had Megan Dzurec’s position [coordinator of health education and promotion], we have constantly been looking at the impact of alcohol on our campus, looking at our policies and protocols,” said Ramsey. “We are constantly looking to see what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense and how can we tweak things to make them better align with our goals and values at John Carroll and with risk management and healthy mechanisms.”
While the policy prevents student fundraisers at venues which make most of their profits from alcohol sales, the JCU Cleveland Alumni Chapter has their next event set to be held at the the Granite City Food & Brewery at Legacy Village on Feb. 25.
JCU alumni events are held at several different locations, including on the JCU campus. At JCU alumni events, which are free, a donation table is always set up for potential donations by past JCU grads. At many of the alumni events, a cash bar has been available to attendants.
While the two John Carroll entities are completely separate, Ramsey said that there was an inconsistency.
“It’s strange, isn’t it? It’s a bit like mixed messages,” Ramsey said. “To be honest, there are a lot of schools of thought in terms of messages about alcohol at John Carroll. Students can see that and say, ‘What’s the difference?’ and I think that’s a great point.”
Anne Hribar, a JCU alumna who has attended alumni events in the past, also remarked on the opposing policies of two types of JCU-sponsored fundraisers.
“I don’t know that it is necessarily fair, but how I define fair to my kids is that fair doesn’t necessarily mean fair for everybody,” said Hribar. “I think it’s more relative to the person than to the age. Having said that, I think that regardless of your age, people who are going to overindulge, are going to overindulge.”
“Maybe with John Carroll, they are trying to figure out the best way to implement their policies,” said Forristell. “Maybe this is just a start, maybe it will get amended and maybe this won’t be permanent. If the student body starts to complain enough, hopefully it does change.”
Ramsey said that while the policy may limit the venue, it also opens the door to new and different types of fundraising sites.
“We just want groups to be a little more creative and thoughtful with fundraiser events,” said Ramsey. “There’s so many other things that they can do that would be beneficial for the community and them, than just deferring to ‘Let’s just go to Jake’s.’”