Syracuse University has gotten a lot of press lately, for better or worse, and the school now seems to be somewhat of a directionless institution that can’t get its crap together. About a year ago, it spent upwards of $70,000 to lobby Congress to push for a bill that would allow for larger fraternity houses. Then, hot on the heels of the university closing its Advocacy Center, which supports victims of sexual assault and violence, the school fired a professor for having a consensual relationship with a legal, consenting, of age student. Now, Syracuse is the top party school in America, and it’s none too happy about it:
“We are disappointed with the Princeton Review ranking, which is based on a two-year-old survey of a very small portion of our student body…We do not aspire to be a party school,” said SU Chancellor Kent Svyerud.
I can certainly tell you from experience that Syracuse University, much like most major colleges in America, is business first and foremost, and, frankly, this ranking and publicity can only drive up applications and admissions. Sorry if that doesn’t get you the average SAT/ACT score you want for your application rankings, but it certainly won’t hurt your bottom line when you double your early decision applicants this year.
Now, it seems the ‘Cuse has taken this anti-partying attitude seriously by cracking down on students’ ability to party, and the first domino has fallen. Castle Court, one of the most popular party spots on campus, is now barred from hosting any large parties, after complaints from Syracuse University and the city’s police.
For those of you who don’t know, Castle Court is an apartment complex in Syracuse where all the units surround a massive parking lot, and that parking lot is either in a state of A) a massive tailgate, party, or banger, or B) a massive graveyard of cups, bottles, used prophylactics, tattered clothes, blood, teeth, and poor decisions. It’s where most of this now-infamous video takes places (especially the parts with the bouncy castle).
The University has expressed their very deep concern. Per our conversations with the University and the Syracuse Police Department, we wanted to officially let you know that this will not be allowed going forward and there will no longer be any large parties in the Castle Court parking lot.
SU’s complaint, which it filed in 2013 to Campus Hill, included these safety concerns:
- Students hanging off balconies
- Disrupting traffic
- Setting fires in the parking lot
- Large crowds
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Glass and debris in the parking lot
- Multiple noise complaints
Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs, said in an email that SU is working with Campus Hill and SPD to address “issues of concern,” which have occurred at Castle Court in recent years. “In addition, this coming week we will be communicating directly with the residents of Castle Court about this,” he said.
For the record, according to Syracuse’s school newspaper, The Daily Orange, “in the SU Department of Public Safety’s 2014 crime logs, Castle Court had one report of a personal injury on Feb. 22. In 2013, the year SU filed the complaint, there were three noise complaints and six reports of criminal mischief, according to DPS crime logs.” So…no reports of any major drug busts, no critical injuries, no deaths, no assaults, no major crimes at all? But by all means, shut it down. Riiiight. Syracuse’s department of public safety, by the way, declined to comment on the party ban.
I’m sure that some of this pressure to crack down on parties came from the City of Syracuse, which has always been at odds with the university and its students about partying in city neighborhoods. Syracuse University is, after all, located directly between the city and a massive residential neighborhood. It’s smack dab in the middle–you can walk from the neighborhood on one side of the campus to downtown on the other side. But certain city legislators are attempting to push a “social host law” through the city council, which would would hold the owner of the property responsible for issues such as underage drinking and other broken laws, in an attempt to cause landlords to watch over their properties more closely and curtail parties.
“Nobody’s against parties, but everyone’s against mini-Woodstocks,” he said. “You’ve got to draw a line somewhere,” said Bob Dougherty, a Syracuse Common Councilor and member of the public safety committee who is vehemently backing this measure.”
Frankly, the university and the city have pulled this same move before. Consider, if you will, the case of Mayfest, the university’s biggest party day, which, in the past, was a school-wide banger during which, the students would travel up and down Euclid Avenue, a very popular street in the neighborhood adjacent to campus, where many students rent apartments. The entire street would be one house party after another, and the students would rage up and down a massive street from sunrise to sunset. Basketball and football players, just months away from becoming millionaire superstars, would do keg stands and share joints with students. Professors would (secretly) attend the parties. People even played beer pong with cops. In its heyday, Mayfest was truly a sight to behold, with more than 3,500 students on Euclid Avenue in 2007, according to a Daily Orange article. In 1999, there was even a riot at a Mayfest precursor known as “Livingstock,” which led to fires and a total of 28 felonies. You can’t beat that, can you?
The university certainly tried. In 2009, Syracuse announced that classes would no longer be canceled on Mayfest. The school started calling it “SU Showcase,” and it effectively ended the day of partying. Now Mayfest exists in the form of a university-sanctioned event in a park adjacent to frat row, with “free” food, “free” entertainment, and even “free” beer…if you’re 21 or older. And I say “free” because it comes out of your student activity fund, whether you like it or not. Sadly, there are probably no active students left on campus who remember Mayfest on Euclid–the last class to truly experience the event graduated in 2012. And that’s how Syracuse wins, by outlasting its students. While they’re only on campus for four years, Syracuse University has been here for 144, and will likely be the last thing standing–along with the cockroaches and Twinkies–after World War Z or whatever. A mere half a decade after you do something unpopular, and nobody’s around to remember it. Sure, you’re breeding a generation of contempt alumni, but who gives a shit when you’ve got that sweet, sweet Dick Clark money rolling in?
Don’t get me wrong, Syracuse University is a wonderful institution with many fantastic programs, including its top-ranked S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for journalism, broadcasting, and media majors, its highly-touted architecture program, its unmatched sports management program, top-ranked athletics teams (‘Cuse basketball, stand up!) and its up-and-coming business school, the Whitman School of Management, but still, the university seems to have its head up its own ass on this one. Instead of focusing on things like cracking down on the university’s social life and the “damage” the #1 party school ranking has done to the university’s reputation, Syracuse should focus on issues such as rising tuition, which, at this writing, is $40,380, plus another $14,400 for room and board, or its insane decision to eliminate a sexual violence protection program and office, or other egregious issues. For example, for a university with the First Amendment written on the side of one of its buildings, it is considered one of the worst universities in the country in terms of freedom of speech, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
More than that, it’s one of the schools where pretty much everyone I talk to is happy and loves to be there. People are PROUD to be Syracuse University students, and its vast alumni network stretches across the country and around the world. You can’t spit in New York City without hitting a Syracuse alum, and from all the ones I’ve talked to, their most cherished memories of attending the school aren’t from classes they took or university-sanctioned programs they attended, but rather from cheering at a sold-out basketball game against Duke, or Villanova, or Georgetown with 35,000 of their closest friends; or stumbling down Marshall Street with their sorority sisters or fraternity brothers or best friends after a blackout night at Chucks, Faegans, or Lucy’s with a half-consumed Jimmy John’s sandwich in their hands; or jumping down the fire escape of a sorority house because they got caught after hours by the house mom; or going to an amazing university-sponsored concert like Juice Jam or Block Party; or becoming a member of one of the 50 esteemed Greek organizations on campus; or sledding down Crouse Castle hill in a blizzard; or lying down on the quad during one of the few nice days on campus when it finally starts snowing. That’s what Syracuse is to those people.
In closing, Syracuse needs to stop trying to be the next Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Duke, or whatever. There isn’t going to be a next Harvard. Why? Because Harvard is Harvard, and it’s not going anywhere. Northwestern is Northwestern. Duke is Duke. And Syracuse needs to lighten the fuck up and start being Syracuse again. The university needs to be proud of what it is, because there’s only one Syracuse University on the face of the Earth, and let me tell you, it’s one hell of a place.
[via The Daily Orange]
Image via text goes here