‘Senior Bar Evening’ continues as senior traditions evolve

Seniors and band members dance to live music during Senior Gala on May 11, 2014. Senior Pub Night was cancelled last year, and replaced with Oktoberfest. (Archive Nicholas Pfosi / The Tufts Daily)

Senior Oktoberfest and a non-university affiliated Senior Bar Evening, two events that emerged last year after Tufts said it would stop hosting the university-sponsored Senior Pub Night in September 2016, will continue this year, signaling these two events are evolving into more established campus traditions.

Senior Bar Evening will be held on Oct. 19 at Boston’s Whiskey Saigon, according to event organizer and senior Connor Doherty. The event has no formal ties to Tufts University or the Tufts University Social Collective (TUSC), according to Doherty. There are hopes for other Senior Bar Evenings throughout the year, according to the event’s webpage.

The Office for Campus Life (OCL) pulled university sponsorship from Senior Bar Night last year after reports that students behaved confrontationally toward an OCL staff member and acted disrespectfully toward the venue due in part to excessive intoxication. In response, Shana Gallagher (LA ’17) independently organized the first student-run “Senior Bar Evening” last year. Gallagher told the Daily that students would have to arrange their own transportation in the absence of the buses the OCL provided in the past.

This year’s senior class is continuing the student-led nature of the event, which Doherty said makes the students more respectful and less likely to cause harm.

“When students realize it’s hosted by another student, it’s someone on your campus — a fellow senior is financially responsible — they’re much more respectful of the space,” Doherty said.

Both Doherty and Joe Golia, director of the OCL, noted that the change in sponsorship was a needed step for Senior Bar Evening. Though Senior Bar Evening is not affiliated with Tufts or TUSC, Golia was in contact with Doherty to discuss the event’s progression.

“I let him know that I’m here for him,” Golia said. “I’m not going to turn my back if something happens, but other than that, [the OCL] is not involved at all.”

Golia said that, although Pub Night and Bar Evening are similar in nature, the event encountered a lot of problems when the university ran it, while the student-led event last year incurred fewer damages. He expressed hope that this year’s student-run iteration would find the same success as it did last year.

“All I can hope is… [when] students [are] working for students and being responsible themselves, that other students respect that more and support them,” Golia said.

TUSC is running a similar, university-sponsored senior event of their own: Senior Oktoberfest, which is scheduled to take place tonight on the President’s Lawn. The event is open to the entire senior class, although only students of legal drinking age will be served. In contrast, the non-university sponsored Senior Bar Evening is restricted to seniors 21 and up. 

Sam Little, a member of the council, described Oktoberfest as an inclusive, community-building event.

“[TUSC] just decided to move in a direction that would be more accessible towards more students,” Little, a senior, said.

According to Golia, Oktoberfest was a success last year, with around 700 seniors in attendance. However, he was concerned for the event this year: just two days prior to the event, only around 100 tickets had been sold.

Doherty explained that Oktoberfest and Senior Bar Evening are not conflicting events. Rather, both are class bonding activities supported by the senior class.

“We’re trying to make Senior Bar Night as inclusive as possible, you know, people don’t have to drink — you can just come for the fun of it,” Doherty explained. “But it’s really nice that Tufts is trying their best to come up with a non-conflicting senior tradition as well.”

The Student Life Review Committee report released in September 2017 determined that “campus-wide traditions are lacking,” and recommended that the university “work with student leaders to create and support activities that can be cultivated as campus-wide traditions.”

Golia questioned the meaning of Tufts’ senior-oriented events in light of the report. He explained that the fact Tufts’ Senior Nights happened every year did not make them necessarily meaningful, noting that other Tufts traditions, such as the candle-lighting ceremonies and Spring Fling events seemed to hold more significance for students.

Golia stressed that senior nights must evolve.

I think [traditions]… have to develop, and they have to come from students over time,” Golia said.

Doherty expressed his excitement for Senior Bar Evening, emphasizing the unique atmosphere of an event “by the senior class, for the senior class.” Doherty said he hopes that senior traditions will live on in future years.

“I definitely think that it’s important to allow traditions to evolve,” said Doherty. “Keeping them alive in some way is important.”