Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.”
“The Sunday before dead week started.” It sounds like the title of an old Alfred Hitchcock horror movie.
I tried to squeeze out my final moments of freedom before the perils of dead week consumed me by hitting the links — the golf course, that is.
As I teed up my worn down Callaway Warbird golf ball onto a jagged, snapped wooden tee, I already felt worn out from losing an hour of sleep and guilty for skipping the morning church service, instead opting to worship Lord Titleist.
Per usual, my phone began ringing in the middle of my backswing.
Grateful for the excuse for my miserable tee shot, I checked my phone to see what the commotion was about. Normally not ones to text me early on a Sunday, my family had sent some texts inquiring about a local newspaper article titled “9 hurt in garage roof collapse at college party.”
“Great,” I thought, along with some choice words. “How am I supposed to explain this?” Knowing my family, I knew some would consider the St. Fratty’s Day party the stuff of legends, straight from Animal House. But mostly, I knew I’d have to come up with a crafty explanation to assure the rest that the Cal Poly community is a safe and positive place.
In all honesty, before my family started bombarding me with questions about the party, I hadn’t cared much about it. I was relieved that nobody was seriously injured and even more relieved that nobody died. Beyond that, the whole event seemed blown out of proportion. St. Fratty’s Day parties happen every year and aren’t exclusive to Cal Poly … We just happened to make the biggest mistake.
But that’s just it: a mistake.
After criticizing the event (rightfully so), San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx immediately began emphasizing her wish to ban residents from sitting on rooftops with the exception of roof maintenance or installation.
College students are young adults, still maturing. We make mistakes, lots of them. This is the time in our lives where we are supposed to learn from mistakes and not make them again. Because of this, I believe the response from the city government is a knee-jerk reaction to an event they failed to control.
If Marx thinks people on rooftops are the problem here, she’s got it all wrong.
The solution isn’t a mass punishment against residents of the city. In fact, there is nothing harmful about sitting on a rooftop while enjoying a golden California sunset or a casual conversation with good friends. I’m guilty of it, my neighbors are guilty of it, and I’d be willing to bet that nearly every college student who rents a house in San Luis Obispo has ventured onto their roof at some point.
I’m no expert in city planning or public relations by any means, but my amateur opinion is that Cal Poly Students, the Cal Poly community and the San Luis Obispo community need come together to seek a resolution to the rift at hand.
While it’s unfortunate that it took a potentially deadly event like the roof collapse to bring the city and college communities together, the forum Cal Poly hosted last Thursday highlighted a far deeper issue than a group of intoxicated college students bringing down a roof: Cal Poly students, Cal Poly administration and San Luis Obispo seem to be on far different pages.
As Cal Poly tries to increase its student population to 20,000, San Luis Obispo is looking to limit student housing around the city, specifically to prevent an “Isla Vista effect.” Without more on-campus housing, where does this divide leave students? More and more, students seem to be finding themselves in old run-down houses near campus, in houses far from campus or crammed into single-family homes that are accommodating far more people than they were built to hold.
As the details of the party begin to unfold, we begin to see a much more complex issue than previously perceived. Whether we have a cultural problem here at Cal Poly or too many students decided to make the same mistake at the same time, I don’t know.
But one thing is for sure: The embarrassment of an international spotlight on our mistake was punishment enough. While we have this spotlight shining upon us, we have to do the best we can to create a positive solution from this negative problem.
I applaud Cal Poly’s administration for inviting the campus and community to the forum last Thursday. Digging to the roots of the issues we have here at Cal Poly is constructive. Punishing the citizens of the entire city for a small group’s mistake — that’s destructive.