Pre-St. Paddy’s Day Party Disaster

Pre-St. Paddy’s Day Party Disaster

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Drunk college kids gathering in massive crowds for no real reason but to get drunk: what could possibly go wrong?

A Blarney Bust

The University of Massachusetts found out earlier this week when the school’s yearly “Blarney Blowout” had to be broken up by police in riot gear after people at the pre-party started destroying things. Property damage, excessive noise and general pandemonium ended up causing injuries, sexual assaults, fights and violence—a scene the police chief called “extremely disturbing and unsafe.” And it’s no wonder: when officers showed up at an apartment complex around noon on Saturday to disperse the mayhem, they were pelted with glass bottles, beer cans and snowballs.

Boozin’ on up to the East Side

Look, I’m from the Midwest so I’m no stranger to red Solo cups. I moved to New York City to get away from these people. It seems kind of ironic then that I ended up on the Upper East Side—otherwise known as the beer crawl capital of Manhattan. The fact that my apartment is rent-controlled is my justification for living where I do, even though pretty much any day of the week (but particularly if there is some kind of sporting event on TV), you can find herds of wasted people stumbling from one sports bar to the next. Not-drunk people in low-level finance are perfectly pleasant; pour a pitcher of Pabst Blue Ribbon down their gullets and they become, in my mind, the most obnoxious kind of drunk. I have no problem with you playing beer pong. Just don’t clog up my sidewalk, antagonize my dog and vomit on my stoop.

I suppose the lesson here is that alcohol abuse is everywhere, geographically speaking—even in the so-called cultural capital of the world. Beyond that, it’s also true that alcohol abuse is cross-cultural. Sure, I’m picking on a certain kind of drunk— UMass or UPenn or U-Anywhere assholes—but maybe we should be giving the college drinking culture some serious attention instead of picking on it. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAA], roughly four out of five college students drink, about half of them binge drink and more than 150,000 develop an alcohol-related health problem.

Time to Tame the Spectacle

Me, I was never a girl who did keg stands at fraternity parties. I was more like a Suicide Girl. We look different on the outside but when we drink, we abuse alcohol just the same. When I drank, I too broke bottles, damaged property, made excessive noise, started fights, behaved in ways I’d deem sexually irresponsible and threw up on a good many stoops. While my issues never resulted in the sort of mayhem that visited UMass this week, the damage was real. Perhaps it’s time we look at ways to talk to college students about drinking, rather than just reporting on what happens when it goes awry.

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About Author

Melissa Petro is a freelance writer and writing instructor living in New York City. She has written for NY Magazine, The Guardian, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Jezebel, xoJane, The Fix and elsewhere. She is the founder of Becoming Writers, a community organization that provides free and low cost memoir-writing workshops to new writers of all backgrounds and experiences.