For my final "Storytime" before I graduate, I've decided to point out that, no matter how much our dear University of Connecticut has moved up in national public university rankings, we've regressed tenfold in terms of social vibrancy.
What I mean is, there’s no more parties in Storrs.
This is, without a doubt, because of overly aggressive cops and resident assistants. Their actions have been and continue to be devastating to UConn’s party culture. This trend has grown progressively worse since I was a freshman, and can be seen most clearly in the police state that is Spring Weekend.
Spring Weekend crystallizes the frivolity of police pursuits at UConn. When I was a freshman, I learned this hallowed weekend was actually hollow – devoid of any recreation unsanctioned by the university. Half the student population leaves for fear of persecution. The other half are essentially not allowed anywhere but their rooms and in the vicinity of the Student Union. Officers check the bags of students traveling back from the library, as they once did to me, and you best believe the only party is at the bar. Commuters can also look forward to speaking with cops as they pass through sober driving checkpoints.
But hey, we have Oozeball!
I played Oozeball for the first time this year. I paid 20 bucks for 20 minutes of action, as my teammates and I are terrible at volleyball. But I'm not bitter – it's UConn's longest, and only tradition – and I got some good pictures with my friends. My gripe comes from UConn's belief that Oozeball and a few food trucks will make up for years of racking up arrests and citations for harmless crimes, such as drunken get-togethers and late night pot smoking. Pour some out for the hours of celebration erased from human record because of eager law enforcement knocking on doors, taking names, turning down the music and riding off into the night as if the deed was noble or just.
Increased police presence is to blame for ruining what was once UConn's other tradition: partying.
It’s no wonder students continue to dive headfirst into Greek Life’s clutches. With an emboldened police force and an expanded staff, it seems the only possible parties are underground or justified by philanthropy. This, in turn, leads to Greek Life being vilified for their role in these festivities, when, in reality, they’re doing their jobs, attempting to have a good time and throw down like we all thought we would when we were dreaming of college life in our drab high school classrooms.
What even is UConn without the occasional riot or, at the very least, lit day parties? It's a research university in the middle of nowhere with a solid STEM program and quality dairy products. All we ask for is a modicum of privacy. The university administration and police department should prioritize the work that needs doing rather than easy, quota filling, night-killing efforts.
All of this is why my time at UConn has been defined by my friendships. I feel as if most students can attest to that. It's not as if parties have been nonexistent during my tenure, but they often get shut down, and are sometimes hard to locate. Oftentimes, at UConn, you have to make your own fun, and there's no one I would have rather done that with than my Goon Squad, our affiliates and my Daily Campus homies.
I remember lying to an RA when a group of them came to a dorm room to stop a 15-person gathering and to prosecute underage drinkers. I told them that I didn't go to UConn, said I'll be right back, I just have to go to the bathroom. Then I ran away. That night ended in a dorm room with eight friends. It wasn't a rager, but it was special.
Value the bangers you experience while at UConn, because they may come few and far between. My advice would be to make a friend group of 20-30 people and create your own parties. UConn's rankings fetish had led to the de-funification of Storrs. But don't let the authorities get you down: college is as turnt as you want it to be.
Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.