You’re Golfing During House Party!?!?

His phone’s ringtone sounded like his alarm as he glanced at his iPhone.  He already knew who was calling.  “Mike, they can’t find out,” he cried.  “This is awful!”  I turned to my friend as he put his SUV in drive, golf clubs rattling in the back as he pulled away from his downtown house filled with college students holding plastic, red Solo cups.  We were on our way to the Bucknell golf course, but my good friend had a couple phone calls to ignore and a lecture on the importance of House Party, first.  “You just don’t understand,” he told me.  “You play basketball…people know that.  It’s not a big deal if you don’t go out during house party.  Me?  I’m in a fraternity.  It’s different.”  I laughed — but his comments made me think.  “Why is it different?” I asked.  “What’s so bad about going golfing today?  We’ve been waiting all winter for a chance, and today is a perfect opportunity.”  He agreed.  “I know, I’ll just hear about this constantly for a week.”

The 10th hole. Usually my tee shot ends up to the left underneath one of those trees 😦

OK, to be fair, my friend mentioned in the paragraph above overreacts sometimes, and he knows how funny I find his rants.  He may have been making the situation out to be worse than it actually was, but either way, it sparked an interesting conversation between the two of us.  House Party weekend is fun, in my opinion.  I don’t love it or mark it on my calendar months in advance, nor do I despise it and give the STANK EYE to everyone I see partying.  What I do despise, however, is the thought process that you’re SUPPOSED to drink the entire weekend, because that’s just what people do.  And this thought process isn’t just prevalent during House Party.  It’s year-round, and embedded in too many students’ minds on campus.

Bucknell’s 2011 Campus Climate report gave 7 significant problems.  The first one was “Lack of student intellectual engagement outside the classroom.”  The next three discussed problems with the social scene and alcohol consumption, but I argue that the first problem mentioned is what causes these problems with binge drinking and lack of popular social activities besides registers and downtown parties.  In my opinion, for a lot of students at Bucknell, their experience or expectations of college revolve around three things: athletics and Greek life, going to class, and partying.  Now, I’M GUILTY of this type of thinking.  For me, I sometimes find myself just focusing on basketball, going to class, and the nights when I’m able to go out.  For others, it might be their sorority, class, and partying.  Or lacrosse, class, and partying.  Here’s a quote from the report that echoes my statements:

“What am I supposed to do on the weekends if I don’t want to go to the library and I don’t want to go to a fraternity party?”    

Here’s my advice: Get some hobbies.  Write poetry, make music, play a fun video game, do pottery, watch movies, develop a new smartphone app, lift weights, ride your bicycle, learn to dance, learn to cook, play Pokemon for all I care.  Do something YOU, personally, find joy and comfort in.  Something you’re proud of and something that’s meaningful.  Something that makes the world a better place.  You might ask — “How is playing a video game meaningful?  How does that make the world a better place?”  Well, it’s something someone else created.  Just like a book that someone else wrote.  You can communicate through it and about it with others that find it interesting as well.

Pika Pika Pika!!!

Basically what I’m trying to say is that college shouldn’t just be about what sport you play, what sorority you’re in, going to class, and partying.  I think our generation frowns upon having hobbies and it’s a shame.  I’ve already read from some other posts and in the Campus Climate report the popular “Work hard, play hard” slogan.  Well, that slogan is a great example of what I’ve been trying to explain.  Life isn’t that black and white.  You have a lot more options that work (studying) and play (partying).  Do one of those hobbies I listed above.  And if your fraternity brothers want to give you a hard time for golfing on a Saturday afternoon, they can kick rocks.

Climate Change is real

Bucknellians partying hard in 1980

Change is extremely hard.  Just like the Campus Climate analysis says, “Solving problems that involve human behavior, especially group behavior, is incredibly difficult” (65). Saying this, one can understand the backlash that I have heard about campus climate from the student body. From “President Bravman is ruining Bucknell” to “Bucknell now sucks,” the majority of people hate the idea of changing the campus climate, mainly the changing Greek Life. However, many of these people are unaware why these things are really going on.

It is a fact that Greek life dominates Bucknell.  When people go out on the weekend, people go to fraternity houses or downtown houses associated with fraternities. The President’s tasks force hit it on the nose when they said Greek life dominates the culture. Sadly, Greek life also becomes associated with binge drinking and hooking up. Then, by the transitive property, the culture at Bucknell is highly dominated by binge drinking and hooking up. This party culture, unfortunately, is extremely appealing to 18-23 year old males and females who are now experiencing the freedom from their controlling parents from home.  As a result, this culture has become embedded in Bucknell and rein enforced years prior to President Bravman and Bucknell now possesses the reputation as a phenomenal party school.

Although this party reputation appeals to college students, many people fail to recognize the implications of this culture. Every weekend, students constantly go to the hospital for unbelievable alcohol levels. Some students even go on the brink of death and flat line. I talked to a public safety officer and he even said that “we are past the point of someone dying. We have gotten lucky.” That is unacceptable and demands change. From this standpoint, I can totally seek the point in trying to change the climate.  Bucknell needs to do something to prevent students of killing themselves. If we, the students, are not going to take responsibility to take care of our own lives, Bucknell has no choice but to step in. If a student was to die on Bucknell campus it would be tragic for the student (obviously) and the university as a whole.  No one is going to want to send their kid to school that has kids flat lining every weekend.

In response, President Bravman has made a dramatic change on campus climate. My freshman year (2010-2011), the party culture was much different. Every weekend there were multiple parties that students could go to. It wasn’t a question “if” something was happening, it was just a matter of where.  Then, if you are a girl, you’re automatically getting in. And if you are a guy, as long as you know somebody in the party, you’re in. However, in the past 2 years, Bucknell has kicked off multiple fraternities and now controls the party. The process of just registering for a party requires stringent rules and regulations that the fraternity has to abide by. If they don’t, they are likely to get kicked off campus. As a result, many fraternities now allow less people to enter into the parties, both male and female.  In addition, many fraternities are scared to even have parties on campus at all and are now resorting to throwing parties down town.

In this regard, Bucknell fraternity life has diminished like the climate analysis demands. However, is pushing parties downtown better? The number of police citations has increased exponentially due to the high activity down town. In addition, since people are scared to drink downtown and at the fraternity parties, people are now “pregaming” more dangerously. As a result, people are stumbling before they even get to the parties, then proceed to drink more. This then can help explain why cops citations are on the rise. However, to combat this downtown culture, now the university is placing the new dorm and fraternity houses uphill. In addition, they are extremely diminishing the number of people able to live off campus year by year and eventually are going to eliminate downtown housing completely.

Back to the first point, change is extremely hard. Despite the restrictions, Bucknell students continue to binge drink, party and resists change. However, I believe this change is inevitable. Bucknell will never fully eliminate the party culture, but they can somewhat control it. They already have had a major impact. The reason why many people say “Bucknell now sucks” is because they are changing the party culture. Even though people still go to the hospital, fraternities and sororities are acting more responsible with parties. Once the off campus housing is completely eliminated, people will have no choice but to party in the fraternity houses where the university says when and how they can throw the party. Overall, the change is already happening. Once the current juniors graduate next May, the students who experienced the “fun” old culture of crazy parties every weekend will all be gone. As a result, the culture of controlled registers and the strict monitoring of Greek life will become the norm as the years go on.