‘House Party’ in review: The weekend that lived

Caroline Fassett, Elizabeth Worthington, News Editor, Assistant News Editor

Historically, one weekend of each spring semester is designated for Greek-life-centered partying and debauchery–a celebration known as “House Party Weekend.” Though the event was once sanctioned by the school, President Bravman and University administrators discontinued it after 2013 in an effort to curb the excessive drinking associated with the weekend. Since then, the tradition has been carried on by students in an unofficial capacity.

In 2013, the number of recorded alcohol-related transports totaled 15, 13 of whom were University students. Over the course of that weekend, 15 thefts were reported to Public Safety. Though some students argue that the event should continue to be one upheld by the University, since its cancellation the number of hospitalizations and alleged crimes has immensely diminished. This past weekend, April 1-2, 5 individuals, 3 of whom were students, were transported to the hospital, and no thefts were reported.

“President Bravman did a great job changing the policy,” Chief of Public Safety Steve Barilar said. “In the past, when there was an advertised ‘House Party,’ more people [at the University and beyond it] were aware of it. It’s a bad element; there’s more opportunity for theft to occur.”

Though many students were alarmed by the vast number of Public Safety officers on patrol this past weekend–their presence increases during House Party Weekend–Barilar affirmed that, if anything, security has reduced this year in comparison to prior years when the event was sponsored by the school. He also stated that the officers only stop and address perceptibly intoxicated students. Aside from Public Safety, Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department (BVRPD) also had a significant presence downtown.

“When on duty, [Public Safety officers] use good judgment in deciding which students to stop and address and which not to. If they’re walking fine and not breaking any laws, we don’t stop them,” Barilar said.

Barilar praised the efforts of both Director of Residential Education Josh Hartman and Associate Director of Residential Education Jackie Cetera in patrolling the dormitories, stating that they “probably saved a life.”

Hartman emphasized the important role the Residential Advisors (RAs) play in keeping campus safe.

“The RAs [Residential Advisors] are a major force for positive change in the addressing of high-risk drinking practices on campus through the relationships they build with their residents and their presence within the community,” Hartman said.

Barilar reported that one University student was arrested with a DUI—driving under the influence of alcohol. This incident was confirmed by the Union County Sheriff’s Office, who said that the student has yet to be charged but is in the process of being prosecuted. The investigation is ongoing.

Aside from the heavy focus on safety and drinking habits, House Party Weekend also had implications for downtown businesses, which saw a spike in sales. In particular, Larry’s Pizza, Pizza Phi, and Domino’s Pizza all benefited from the tradition.

Rick Thomas, the co-owner of Pizza Phi, said that he was prepared for the weekend after hearing about the event through word of mouth. He employed extra staff members on March 31 and April 1 in preparation for the chaos. Over the weekend, Pizza Phi was also involved in a philanthropy event coordinated by Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity in which 10 percent of the proceeds were donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters non-profit organization. Thomas said that the added promotion escalated their earnings.

“It was a lot busier than any other weekend we’ve had this school year. ‘House Party Weekend’ and the philanthropy event made it a big one for us,” Thomas said.

Much like Pizza Phi, which drew in profits 30-40 percent higher than last year, Josh Flora, Domino’s Pizza general manager, said the restaurant was “definitely busier than normal.” He expressed that he was “happy to have the business.” Larry Yearick, owner of Larry’s Pizza, reported that his restaurant experienced a 30 percent increase in sales, forcing him to stay and work in the kitchen until 3:30 a.m.

“I am absolutely thankful. The restaurant was hopping on Friday and Saturday. I just hope that next year, the kids will give me a heads-up,” Yearick said.

Both students and faculty weighed in on the weekend’s events. Students reported that the Fine Wine & Good Spirits liquor store was running low or out of stock on a number of products by the night of Thursday, March 31. Other students had exams and papers due on the Friday of House Party Weekend, and some viewed this as an effort to deter them from partaking in the weekend’s activities.

“I left my exam not feeling great or confident about it at all, so I didn’t really feel like celebrating. I ended up telling my friends I’d be sober and around to help anyone who needed me instead,” Megan Ganning ’18 said.

Some professors affirmed that this was merely a coincidence and that the exams were not scheduled intentionally.

“Fake House Party is this weekend? I had no idea. My syllabus is shared with two other sections of the same course, and I don’t think any of us had, or have, a clue that this is was House Party Weekend. Just a coincidence,” Associate Professor of Biology & Environmental Studies Matthew McTammany said.

Associate Professor of Political Science Chris Ellis echoed this sentiment, saying that he hadn’t been aware of the event, but, in the past, had tried to avoid having exams or major assignments due the Friday of the weekend.

“It doesn’t seem fair to students who are generally good and engaged, but want to take a day or two to blow off steam with everyone else,” Ellis said. “As a Bucknell grad myself, I actually wish the event was still an official university-sanctioned one. I know that certain elements of campus had gotten completely out of control in ways that ruined it for everyone, but there was something kind of special about having a weekend like this.”

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