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Parties: The Important College Tradition

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As any college student or previous college student knows, the college experience wouldn’t be complete without the party scene. This has become so prevalent and so exciting that parties have become an integral tradition of the college scene everywhere—including the Ivy League schools.

The unique thing about college parties, though, is that, as important as they are for developing a social life, meeting people and relaxing, they have also become an omen of trouble. Many universities have garnished the reputation for being party schools, and as attractive as that label is for young people, such an image brings forth a negative connotation akin to evil lurking in the shadows, not to mention automatically denoting a school as having a low-quality curriculum. Is this fair? Perhaps or perhaps not, but it is a fact.

Why? The harsh reality of party schools seeming troublesome has likely come from the fact that many college parties have gotten out of hand, even to the point where the police had to be called in, resulting in injuries, arrests, even deaths. This is scary, but it is true.

Not too long ago, a major U.S. university, which has a reputation of being both a party school and a university with quality curriculum, was the scene of a vast end-of-year party at campus apartment housing, but in no time that party took to the streets and transformed into virtual madness. Police were called in, tear gas was employed, and approximately 51 people were arrested. This is but one example of an innocent, well-deserved party (or several parties in close proximity which might have inadvertently merged together to create one huge party) turning into trouble. Some students get into drinking and/or taking drugs and then make fools out of themselves. Other students either follow suit or attempt to stop the troublemakers (with disastrous results), and chaos explodes. This, unfortunately, has become party of the college party tradition.

The tradition comes from, among other things, the classic 1962 movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House, which colleges today still subconsciously follow, either in physical form or in philosophy. “Louie, Louie,” by the Kingsmen—a feature of the movie—has served as the college party anthem for many years, even though young students today aren’t likely to play it or probably haven’t even heard of it. The ongoing party spirit of both the movie and the song still exists and resonates in the collective consciousness of that age-old college tradition. Toga parties still exist, too, especially in fraternities and sororities, but the range of freedom in the college party free-for-all has extended beyond the sense of responsibility and self-control. In this case, a barrel full of monkeys has turned into an asylum full of lunatics—and quite often criminals in the literal sense.

As for the importance of the party tradition, however, students need this to experience social freedom, where they can expand their social circles. This ideal has not changed because it is necessary for the student’s independence and personal growth. The key lies in responsible behavior, and that comes from keeping in perspective what is actually intended by the college party—socializing, celebrating one thing or another, and making new friends. This need not go hand-in-hand with breaking the law or causing trouble, and even though many college parties have fallen into that category, the tradition need not be broken because of it.

Students need to remember what college parties are all about, and when they do, such events can be fun and enjoyable.


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