Party Bust - letter to the Editor - 9/18/08

Setting the scene:

Delta Pi was on Lightstreet.

They Actives made a mistake and got busted.  A bust that resulted in their furniture being thrown out onto the front yard by the police, and any money in pockets or rooms confiscated (as well as any illegal substances).

This bust also resulted in a few of our brothers leaving school, a full year of probation, an expulsion and thousands of dollars of fines. By the end of the year of probation, we were down to very few Active brothers.

Seemed like enough motivation to pick up a pen, and write a letter.  This is that letter:

by David Decoteau

I am an Alumni of Bloomsburg University and a proud member of the Delta Pi Alumni Association.  You might recognize the Delta Pi name because is was all over the front page of the newspaper recently as the fraternity that threw the notorious “Tuesday Night Party” that attracted 100 students and resulted in 61 underage drinking citations. 


Not to sound like a geezer, but, “When I went to school”...things were different.  In the 80’s the fraternity was far more rowdy.  We had parties at least two nights a week and each party attracted between 200 to 500 students.  I would guess that 75% of those party goers were underage.  When I went to school...our parties didn’t have one or two half kegs, we had 15 for a small, weekday party, 20 for a Saturday night event.  When I went to school...we lived in a residential area.  The present fraternity house is surrounded by college students and other sororities and fraternities.


I offer this information, not because I want to take a walk down memory lane, but because I am questioning the wisdom of these large scale busts and shows of force?  In the 80’s police simply asked us to “shut it down” if they got a complaint, and we complied.  Why don’t we do that today?


The people that I went to school with back in the 80’s are now teachers, lawyers, business men, and occupy important positions in all occupations.  Most importantly, many of them are now fathers and some of these “past party-ers” even have kids attending Bloomsburg University.  Somehow, all these people seemed to grow out of behaving like children and miraculously became men despite drinking underage.


Now I realize that times have changed and that these kids broke the laws, but I wonder if the present punishments fit the crime?  As of this time, nine students are facing large fines, criminal records and possible expulsion from school.  These students have to now try to attend college and keep their grades respectable while they deal with the police, lawyers, university administration and all the resulting bills between classes.  I wonder if any of the guys from the 80’s would have gone on to accomplish the things they have, had they been saddled with this burden in college?  


And all for what...drinking beer in your house?  They weren’t driving cars or endangering anyone.  Why is this a crime?  This is where the argument usually turns to binge drinking and drinking related deaths at colleges. 


People will say that these laws keep our kids safe.  My response would be to ask for the evidence.  Each year police and college administrations take a harder line towards binge drinking and each year the percentages of students partaking in this dangerous activity continue to climb.  When do we realize that the present tactics aren’t working and try something new?   Or do we stick with this present course because we are actually less concerned with results and more concerned with giving the appearance of taking action, while generating fines and income for local police and lawyers?


As for the argument that students drink themselves to death, I would argue that they also drive themselves to death, but we don’t take away their cars or make the driving age 21.


My question is this; what are we trying to accomplish here?  These are not bad kids. The police even were quoted in the article as saying, “the fraternity brothers were cooperative”  Most have good grades and promising futures.  The fraternity is also a far better organization today than it was in the 80’s.  They have moved to a 100% student occupied location.  They have recently completed over 300 hours of community service.  The 800 member Alumni organization has recently vested our scholarship program and were planning to award the first official Delta Pi scholarship this Homecoming weekend.  Now all that good work is in the toilet because kids did what kid have been doing at Bloomsburg University since the beginning of time.  It all seems so pointless and misguided.