Opinion: Students will fight for their right to party, but nothing else
Music & Society Editor
College campuses have consistently been hotbeds for change throughout U.S. history, spearheading societal movements that have shaped the course of this country. Be it civil rights and the Vietnam conflict in the 1960s, women’s liberation and LGBTQ+ rights in the 1970s or environmental activism in the 1980s, students have historically asserted their right to protest and make positive changes, fighting for causes larger than themselves in the interest of the greater good.
In 2019 at the university, the levity of this youth-activist legacy has resonated with students. A singular issue has created so much controversy that over 14,000 have banded together to sign a petition for great change. Advocating with a fire in their hearts and minds, these students will go down in history for their nobility and bravery in combating a severe injustice. Students will not stand for having their dages and super-parties stripped away from them.
Yes, you heard correctly: University students have finally been spurred to action to fight for their right to party — hard. The one thing that has incited students enough to rise up and make change for once in their lives is the disturbing prospect of not being able to shotgun Natty’s in a grimy backyard with a hundred other peers at 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday. Ordinance 19-05, dubbed the “Unruly Social Gathering Ordinance,” has caused more of a stir on this campus than any other issue in recent memory, sending a sickening message about what this student body values and prioritizes.
Up until this point, it appeared that students were disengaged or simply didn’t care about social issues, diverting their time and energy to other avenues. A smattering of protests have taken place at the university in the past year or so — including opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court and the university’s lack of resources for minority groups — but attendance was weak and little was accomplished. Seeing the small turnouts was saddening, but it was reassuring to see some students caring about something at all.
These infrequent, little protests and attempts at actual change were believed to be extremely commendable, especially on a campus that appeared to lack any sort of social consciousness or fiery spirit. But that was then and this is now. With the “Ordinance 19-05 Will Ruin Our School, We Must Fight Back” petition, created by student Charlie Hess, it has proven that students do, in fact, care about social issues only when they are directly challenging their irresponsible, privileged lifestyles.
Where have students been when it has come to the persistence of sexual assault, police brutality, serious immigration struggles, public educational failings, lack of healthcare access and other instances of societal and governmental corruption? We are living in a tumultuous period of injustice and hate that needs to be actively addressed, but instead, 14,000 of us are signing a petition to be able to get blackout drunk in peace and tune out the rest of the world once again.
Among the many things that are troubling about the petition, the language treating underage alcohol consumption and belligerent activity as a normalized process for a “typical college student” is the most disturbing. The petition pleads for the repeal of the ordinance to ensure the university is a place where students “can have fun and be themselves,” as if attending parties and breaking the law is the only way to do so. While partying is, admittedly, a large part of many students’ college experience, I for one find it repulsive that this is the message students are communicating when there is so much other change that needs to be made.
For those who signed the petition, I implore you to reflect on what your involvement means in the current sociopolitical climate and to consider the implications of your actions. The only positive aspect of this situation is that it has set a precedent for student activism, leaving us with no valid excuse for not leveraging our power as proponents of real change in the future. Let’s grow up and fight for something that actually matters.