Learning from JMU’s mistakes

Last weekend, Allegheny College held “Springfest.” Many other colleges have this annual occurrence to celebrate the last few weeks of the semester, the arrival of shorts and flip-flops and the au revoir to the blustery winter.

While our Springfest can get a little crazy, no event at Allegheny can compare to the Springfest of James Madison University in Virginia last weekend.

"At JMU, some block parties attracted up to 8,000 guests." Courtesy of: awkwardflamingo.blogspot.com

JMU held their annual Springfest which was essentially a huge party with about 8,000 students visiting off-campus residences. This year the party featured out of town visitors, huge bonfires, burning garbage dumpsters, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Virginia State Police riot control pulled out all the stops to break up this party. This past weekend left a bad mark on James Madison, while the top Google entries for JMU are: “jmu riot”, “jmu riot 2010” and “jmu springfest 2010.”

I’ve written this column to help ensure nothing like this happens at Allegheny.

Though this weekend at Allegheny was “cute,” it was not what usually happens at Allegheny’s Springfest. I thought of last weekend’s Springfest at Allegheny as a dress rehearsal for a future weekend.

Rumor has it that in two weeks students will put on their own Springfest, and that’s fine. It will probably be a lot more fun than last weekend. However, we must learn from the mistakes of JMU.

1) Keep control of your house.

The main problem from JMU was that there were many unknown guests entering people’s houses, screaming and breaking things. If someone shows up with one of your friends, it’s probably no big deal.

But if a group of 30 kids you don’t know just entered your house, maybe you should do something about it.

Know who is coming and going, because when you have hundreds of people over that you don’t know and suddenly your iPod is missing (probably most common crime at a house party), people won’t feel as bad.

2) Know who you’re bringing from home.

In my research about the past weekend at JMU, it was stressed by the students that I talked to that most of the people that caused the ruckus on campus were not JMU students. The friends you bring are the people you trust to hang out with your school friends, and further, they are a reflection on you.

3) Listen to the police.

We’ve heard it a million times: They don’t have a right to ____. Fill in that blank with: enter our house, dump out our beer, or arrest us for doing nothing.

Cops will do what they want. In the court of public opinion, an inebriated college student’s voice will not have the same credibility as that of a pissed-off cop.

The sad reality is, if they want to do something, they’ll do it, especially if you’re drunk, slurring the words to “F*** the Police”. Check out YouTube videos of JMU. Beer bottles and garbage being heaved at cops can be seen. Once you annoy a cop, forget about it.

Even if the guy is a big bumbling idiot on a power trip, give him the satisfaction of saying, ‘Yeah, sure’, and as soon as he leaves, go back to what you were doing.

Also, JMU had their Springfest the same weekend as their visit day. Now, will some parents be deterred from sending their kids there?


Will most students say that there’s no way they want to go there because they experienced a large party weekend?

No way.

Many complained that having Springfest on a visit day at Allegheny was a bad call by the planners. I say those people are wrong.

In our own little naïve bubble at Allegheny, people think that prospective students are excited to come here to have 8 a.m. breakfast with random professors on a Saturday morning.

Maybe for some, that is true. For the others, people come here to see how fun it is. If students were so interested in seeing how classes go, they would have a visit program from Tuesday-Thursday.

My day today was that I woke up at 10, did homework, studied, went to class, had lunch, did more work, snuck in an episode of Seinfeld, and here I am writing a column for the paper.

Does this sound like something the college would really want to sell to a prospective student?

I didn’t think so. People want to see a good time at college. As long as this fun is kept under control and people can follow the lessons we learned from JMU, let’s have Springfest every year on visit weekend.

I hope to leave you with two things today: 1) Check out JMU on YouTube; it could be confused for a video sent from a soldier in Baghdad and 2) Let’s have a great second Springfest when the weather is better while not doing what JMU visitors and party-goers did.

WARNING: Following video contains adult language.