This week, a story broke about an area sorority that is accused of excessive damages at a number of area venues.
Without getting into the details of this debated event, I'd like to discuss how common it is for college students to throw wild parties.
In the last few weeks, there have been reports of several "festivals" being held in block parties, on farms, and in areas where college kids may not traditionally be expected to party. But when the weather turns warm, and the end of the school year looms, it's not uncommon for some to "blow off steam".
Some have speculated that the sororities and fraternities have worn out their welcome at all the immediate rental halls due to bad behavior...and have had to go farther and farther afield to find a "party room".
I can support at least part of this theory. A good friend of mine has managed a building at a nearby college, and has a standing policy "NO fraternity or sorority balls, parties, dances, events or ceremonies". I asked them why they have this policy, and was told "prior experience". I asked how they could maintain this stand, and was told "every date they ask for is going to be unavailable".
I asked for more specifics. I was told about coffee urns that were plugged in and set on the carpeted floor, scorching the carpet.... candles set up on tables where the dripping wax ruined the table cloths,... students showing up at all hours to "decorate" the event room without any regard to limitations, regulations, or restrictions... let alone hours of operation of the building and personnel.
While none of this is as bad as what we've been hearing in the last few days, there's another situation that rings across the years. Several years ago, on Superbowl weekend, a fraternity nearby wanted to rent a portable hot tub for a "fundraiser" that would continue overnight and through Superbowl Sunday. After a few inquiries, they settled renting a "hot tub" from a board-member of the local Red Cross chapter, who would benefit from the fundraiser. They were warned that the tub would only seat four and must be covered when not in use to keep the heat in and the water level inside. They were also warned that the tub jets must ALWAYS be covered with water at all times, so that the pump would not burn up. They were told they would be responsible for maintaining the chlorine level at all times and that they would pay for the chemicals used.
When the tub was delivered and a down payment was required, it was obvious that no one had raised a dollar for the red cross. The frat brothers began "pan-handling" for donations in front of their house. Fortunately, the house was on a busy street and (to their credit) the brothers succeeded in raising several hundred dollars to cover the cost of the chemicals, new thermometer and odds and ends that were included in the rental. It was obvious that the kid who had signed the contract had NO respect nor control over his frat brothers.
The next day, the owner discovered the thermometer that floats in the tub was shattered... temperatures having exceeded the limit of the glass tube. No one seemed to know what happened. Obviously in the late night, someone didn't like how the water had dropped and cooled off after 5-8 people had crowded into the tub. They boiled water in large pots in the kitchen, and poured it into the tub to supplement the heat. The chlorine chemicals left to maintain the tub were missing completely.
Sadly, when it came time to pick-up the tub, the water level was six inches below the jets openings, and the pump was unplugged. In short, no one had heard any instructions nor paid any attention to the contract. The student who had secured the tub was ignored by his fellows. In short, they disrespected him, the tub, the rules, the operation...and cared only for their personal pleasure with their "female guests" whom they had invited to soak in the tub in bikinis all night and day in "shifts". The fundraiser was just a sham to secure a hot tub for Superbowl weekend.
Was this typical of college behavior? No. Was this typical of sororities or fraternity members? No. The vast majority of college students do not behave this way. Until they get together in packs.
However, the herd instinct behavior that takes over always seems to shock and surprise us. And so, nothing has changed over the years.
Oh, and by the way... the board member has adopted a policy of no rentals for his hot-tub ever since. He found the pump had been burned up and ruined that weekend.