Georgie De Mattos/Mustang News

Liana Riley is a political science junior and Mustang News columnist. 

If you can, for a moment, envision sifting through a myriad of colorful candies and picking out your first Hershey’s bar, with your parent nestled by your side. You’re a pirate because that’s what Party City had destined for you. You skip along the sidewalks, littered with suburban houses, waiting for your next conquest.

This is nostalgia at its most powerful: Halloween. However the holiday holds an entirely different connotation at 20 years old than it did at 10.

At one point the established protocol of trick-or-treating evolved into our insatiable desire to place alcohol in lieu of candy. What had become of our precious holiday?

We grew up. The San Luis Obispo city council has yet to recognize this.

The city of San Luis Obispo enacts double fines during the weekend of Halloween, making it virtually impossible to engage in a gathering larger than 5 without a visit from your friendly neighborhood watch. This isn’t problematic per se, it is the inherent nature of law in practice, seek out wrong doers and misbehaviors and slap them in the face with a $1400 ticket. The issue at hand is the lack of sensible regulation of the holiday.

There are far better strategies for commanding the respect and attention of college students. Namely, not through negative reinforcement. I cannot imagine a more frantic sight than city police attempting to further punish students on a night of guaranteed debauchery.

This attempt to control the student populous fails in a similar vein as teaching abstinence only does everyday, allegorically speaking. These parallels are seen in the way that when we teach formative minds that we have found a new way to punish them for something they are absolutely guaranteed to do, the respective damage is ten times worse than it would be originally.

That is not to say I encourage complete laissez faire policing strategies, on the contrary police are an imperative body of any community. Yet they are simply the middleman in an ongoing hostility between the city and its students.

The reason this all culminates in Halloween is the most recent amendments to San Luis Obispo city legislation. Now we are simply being punished for something we were already punished for, but now with minor attempts to breach the gap between those divided.

If a lack of good behavior is the problem, then why isn’t there more active efforts to communicate directly with students? Instead we receive angry yellow signs plastered to our doors, warning us of the perils of disobeying city ordinances.

The newest unruly gathering legislation isn’t inherently detrimental by any means. In fact, in a larger city with different demographics these municipal policy changes would be indisputable and most likely praised. But what kind of a lesson is it to students that if you disobey us, we will give you a spanking, and without warning.

Depending on your beliefs regarding effective child disciplinary measures, you may not agree with my previous sentiments. But for those who have realized that spanking works just as well at punishment as shushing people gets them to be quiet, my point is well taken.

Escalation is not a solution. The city reacts as if we are a disobedient child, with frustration instead of assessment of a more multidimensional approach and turning these incidents into teachable moments.

Now of course, we are all adults here, I’m not neglecting that. We don’t need San Luis Obispo city council to give us a lesson on inside voices. But I would like to see where there is middle ground and go from there. Halloween could be an opportunity for innovative patrol techniques, allowing students to be treated as equals, and not discriminated against through inflated fines.

Perhaps the best solution is a coalition rather than opposition. Active efforts to not only engage the Cal Poly student body, but work directly with them. So many of us are waiting for an opportunity to express that we are in fact fully fledged adults who deserve to be treated as such, on an equal playing field as those dictating the rules.

If we are to be punished like members of the community, then it is only fair that we are given the full benefits in return.

Because we are, simply put, not the same people who were trick-or-treating 10 years ago.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *