While we as college students can understand the desire to kick back and relax with a beer at the end of the day, there’s a stark difference between being a student at a research university and stumbling around the streets of Carbondale at 10 a.m. drunk on a Saturday.
It’s hypocritical for students to complain about everything that may be wrong with this university when they find themselves lining up outside local bars in the freezing cold for cheap beer and to party during the bar’s 11th annual Polar Bear Party.
Yet this is how thousands of students and Carbondale residents will spend their Saturday.
Events such as this are one reason why the university’s party school reputation continues — even though there are alumni, faculty members, administrators and students that respect the mission of this university and are doing their best to reverse the reputation.
On Monday, Chancellor Rita Cheng sent an email to students and faculty, and sent letters to parents’ home to alert everyone of this weekend’s event.
While there isn’t any harm in letting the public know that the university does not condone this type of activity, some believe she should not have taken on the role as a parental figure.
Some students feel insulted because of the chancellor’s assumption that we, as students, are not adults.
But there is also a stark difference between having the legal status as an adult and acting with the maturity of one.
Nearly 60 people were arrested for underage drinking at 2011’s Polar Bear, according to statistics provided by Carbondale Police Chief Jody O’Guinn. The police department also received 267 calls that weekend for services, which ranged from public possession to public intoxication, public disturbance, property damage, public urination and fires. A couple of students fell into the creek near Pinch, and a few police officers had to dive in after them.
If students intend to be treated as adults, it seems reasonable to act like one. Setting dumpsters (and one couch) on fire is not a way to earn the respect of others. In efforts to prevent further underage drinking, and arrests, all bars will have an open-door policy with Carbondale police this year.
It’s irrational to expect students not to take advantage of cheap drinks and the opportunity to party all day — but it is reasonable to expect students who represent this institution to act with maturity Saturday and to drink responsibly.