Beer. Dim lights. Beirut tables. Basements. All of these have become synonymous with a townhouse party.

However, a focus group comprised of students is being organized by Director of Residence Life Fran Koerting that may change townhouse partying policies as students know them.

“We will revisit the policies, such as the wristbands, registration and only six people allowed in the basement at any one time,” said Koerting. “We want to make sure they are being enforced and if they are reasonable.”

One of the more controversial topics that will be discussed is the townhouse basements. Originally built according to Fairfield safety codes as storage units, within two years the socializing taking place in the basements raised a number of questions about possible safety hazards.

“The stairways are only construction stairwells and the ventilation is poor,” said Koerting. “The issue of having people in the basement is most importantly a safety concern.”

Gary Stephenson, director of housing, will also be involved in the focus group, which he called “a reality check on the townhouses.”

“We want to discuss what is actually happening in the townhouses and work with administrators and students,” said Stephenson. “Together we can discuss what is feasible, possible and agreeable but still within university sanctions and liabilities.”

Twenty Beirut tables were confiscated from townhouses over winter break by University officials and Townhouse Managers which has helped to spread rumors across campus that townhouse basements will be locked next year.

Stephenson dismissed these rumors and maintained that no such regulation is in place for next year.

“Those houses were checked for temperatures and to ensure that the former residents had completely moved out so that the new residents could move in,” said Stephenson.

However, he did not admit that the items confiscated were in fact Beirut tables. Instead, “the construction materials found in the houses were removed according to university policies,” he said.

In addition, one townhouse was found to have a bedroom set up in their basement and have since lost their basement privileges.

The possible revision of party policies has met with mixed emotions from students.

“I think it’s actually a pretty good system as it stands,” said Ryan Jessel ’05, a townhouse resident. “I don’t think many people actually use them for storage, so the only reason most people would complain is because they wouldn’t be able to have parties down there.”

Jessel also wished that the basements could be a legal area of the house for entertainment, such as a pool table. While he acknowledges the safety concern, “You think someone would have thought of that when the basements were being built,” he said.

Kristina Gerics ’07 hopes to live in the townhouses as a junior. “I definitely plan on having a Beirut table in my house,” said Gerics. ” I think the university uses dumb rules and phrases, like ‘construction materials’ to be extremely intrusive on students’ lives.”

Other students agree with the regulations but still don’t use them. “I have never registered a party and never gotten in trouble, so I can’t complain,” said Bill Anderson ’05. “I think the regulations are stupid but necessary.”

However, all possible revisions are on hold until Koerting can find more members for the focus group. A newsletter was sent out to all townhouses and apartments inviting students to sign up to be a part of the group. However, only two students have volunteered.

Gerics sees the need for some changes to be made to the policies. “While I understand the university doesn’t want underage kids drinking, the reality of the situation is that they do,” said Gerics. “I have been to many townhouse parties and have never seen a wristband given out nor anyone refusing to serve underage kids, so obviously the policies aren’t working.”

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