Rethinking Denison’s party scene

JOSH POE, Special to The Denisonian—What happens when you block an ant’s path? It finds a way around that blocked object to get to where it was originally heading. I believe a very similar thing on a much greater scale is happening here on campus.

The party scene here on campus seems to have shrunk greatly. On a recent weekend night, there were only one or two parties that were at very different areas of campus. Being a junior, this is a far cry from what it used to be like here on campus. There used to be seven, eight or even nine parties on any given Friday or Saturday.

We all have been made aware of the situation at the Sunnies and the reasons behind why there can’t be parties there. But, there has been a shift that even this situation does not explain. Now, while there are still places to go to have a good time, these places have an increased show of security which sometimes puts a damper on the fun.

At first glance, additional security in these times seems to be a very good thing and feeling secure enough to relax is the key to having fun. However, as someone who goes to these functions, I can see as soon as security shows up the mood shifts and everyone leaves.

I understand the need for heightened security but, I believe we are going about it the wrong way. I feel as if the additional security is actually punishing those who are following the rules. Additional security at parties should allow us to relax and have fun, but it makes a lot of people feel like we are back in high school, children who need to be watched so we behave.

This situation is a confusing one. We know that there have been issues with some parties, and we know that some inappropriate behavior has occurred, but I feel like the right way to address this issue is not by ruining the fun for those who have followed the rules. I agree that there has to be some sort of recourse for those groups or those people who break the rules or worse, but that does not mean punishing the entire student body.

The sensible thing would be to confront the person or persons responsible and deal with them directly instead of just instituting a blanket rule of “no parties.” We should do a better job of cracking down on those people rather than limiting the number of parties. I understand that the buildings in the Sunnies are not fit to hold parties and that the school is trying to stop parties from being held there by creating the party barn.

The party barn is a good idea, in theory, but it is in a bad location where students do not want to be, and where they are being watched over like little kids. And, the new policy of cracking down on any party that is thrown seems to me like the wrong thing to do. I feel like the school is doing this in order to stop bad things from happening. But it seems to me that the opposite is happening.

Here is where the ant and the obstacle analogy comes in. In order to still have a good time, students are going around the rules and are simply having low key parties in their rooms. This surely does not stop those bad things that the school wants to put a stop to from happening. We still have cases of over drinking, misconduct, and worse occurring, but now it is just happening behind closed doors.

You see, when they meet an obstacle people just work around it, students still want to want to have fun, go to parties, be with their friends and they are going to find a way to do that. Rules and regulations are not going to stop them. But cracking down on and issuing punishments for the people who are causing the issues at parties just might stop the problems from happening.

Simply saying “no more parties” is not going to stop hazing. However, punishing people who are doing the hazing will. Outlawing parties does not stop sexual assault, but harsh punishment for an assaulter just may. Punishing those who follow the rules is not the answer, though, and it is actually extremely annoying.

Students who like me spend every weeknight doing homework until 1 am or later and stress over work constantly need to have an outlet for that stress and to have a good time. Denison is an intensely academic school that requires a lot of work and we need to be able to have fun and have an outlet for the stress we are under. Being constantly scrutinized at a party in the party barn is not that outlet.

A big part of growing up is learning how to handle yourself in a social setting. These faux parties are not real social settings for the students and having security personnel force you to behave is not the same as learning how to behave. It is also teaching students to circumvent the system.

I am not a disgruntled frat boy who just wants to party. I am the kid who works extremely hard during the week to the point of near insanity and during the weekend I just want to go have fun and this campus is not providing me that chance.

I, like the majority of students at Denison, am not old enough to go to bars in town. There are not many restaurants to hang out in or movie theaters to go to.

So on the weekends what am I, and my fellow students supposed to do? Is it going to come down to us having to leave campus to have fun? I highly doubt that is what the school wants, but what is the alternative?

The bottom line is that I feel like I, as well as the other students, am being treated like a child and watched like a hawk when I am simply trying to blow off steam and have fun. And as is the case in a lot of instances, one bad apple spoiled it for everyone.

Josh Poe ‘21 is a commerce media and the arts major from Bethel Park, PA.

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