Friday, May 13, 2011
May 13, 2011: Party, School
[With about 150 papers and 60 exams to grade in the next week, I’m anticipating that many of my posts over that time will be quicker hits, reflections on the end of a semester. This is the fourth of those!]
A Fitchburg State University colleague of mine linked on Facebook today to a story in the local newspaper about FSU’s annual Spree Day, as the last day of classes is known; the article notes without much elaboration that some 40 students were arrested by Fitchburg police, many for “open container violations” on the city’s streets (where all of the near- but not on-campus housing is located), an unspecified but smaller number for more serious violations (like disturbing the peace). A few of us had a good conversation under that link about the situation, and I don’t want to repeat it at length; to highlight part of my take, I do think that at least in part the situation is unfair for our students, who are in some ways encouraged to live on campus (as the University tries to become more residential compared to its more commuter-dominated past) but for whom there’s not enough literal on-campus housing, leading to these near-campus locations where, if college students act like college students often will (and not, I’m quite sure, any worse than such students act in and on the city streets around the frats at my hometown University of Virginia on a weekly basis), they can and at least on this annual occasion do get arrested.
Of course I think our students should be spending more time studying and less time partying; although given that roughly 99.9% of us professors were among the nerdier folks at each educational level (yes, even among our PhD pursuing peers!), we’re probably not the best cohort to be defining the proper balance between such activities. But the truth, I believe, is that almost all 18-22 year olds are going to party, just like they’re mostly going to work as many hours as they can at crappy jobs in order to pay for those good times and for phone bills and music and you name it. The difference here is that our students, like all students but in some ways more than most (certainly more than me and my Harvard classmates), are doing their best to do it all—to be in school, to party, to work. They’re pulled in lots of different directions, and while of course from part of my perspective I wish they could focus more fully, from another I’m very impressed with all that they juggle in their lives and with their determination to keep college in the mix. Seems like the drinks are deserved, sometimes. More this weekend,
PS. What do you think?