JOHANNA M. COSTIGAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF | DEC. 4. 2016
At Bard, a night out can be as likely to cause logistical complexity as it is to trigger social anxiety. Getting from a pregame in Robbins to a party in Tivoli to your girlfriend’s place in Red Hook can present a treacherous set of obstacles, and many students are frustrated by the situation and the school for not providing accessible transportation.
One proposed solution is that Bard students stop partying in Tivoli completely, or at least, as the generous guidelines of the noise ordinance suggest, before 10 p.m. on weekend nights. But I am not interested in purporting the condescending delusion that college students are willing to shut up by ten o’clock, no matter how much they talk about wanting to be respectful in the sober light of day. It is clear, however, that something needs to change.
The Bard Administration has to prioritize this problem. Though finding a solution to the college’s weekend partying configuration is not as important as academic development or raising the funds needed to run the college, it has to be at least acknowledged by high-ranking members of the administration as an issue. Students’ happiness and enjoyment are at stake, sure, but so is their safety.
A few weeks ago I was driving to SMOG at around 10:45 pm. It was cold and dark on 9G. My friend and I noticed someone walking on the side of the road, and I slowed down so we could get a better look at the ill-placed pedestrian.
Once we were closer, we found not one, but a group of about six Bard students. The others hadn’t been visible from afar as a result of their all black get ups. In what could have been read in either a motherly or patronizing manner, I essentially ordered them into the back of my car and asked what emergency had inspired them to walk back to campus.
“There just wasn’t a shuttle.”
“The party wasn’t happening.”
“We didn’t wanna wait.”
“This car is so warm. I love you.”
Two things became immediately clear: these kids had no good reason to be on 9G, and they were very drunk. They walked not because they had no other way home, but simply because, after realizing whatever party they thought they’d be attending wasn’t a reality, they didn’t want to wait in Tivoli for a shuttle.
This situation should not happen. If students are going to be traveling from on to off to on campus, or vice versa, there should be safe ways for them to get home, they should know about the existence of these services, and they should use them. If the established modes of transportation are insufficient or inconsistent, Bard has to alter the system in place.
But the most important short term solution is for no one to let a fellow student start walking home. If you host a party, stay sober enough to supervise the diaspora that comes at the end of it, or implore a friend to do so. If you’re sober with a car, offer to drive people home. If you’re with a group of friends who want to walk home, don’t let them. Call a cab (845-757-2244) or Safe Ride (845-758-7460) or me (914-960-3293).
The long term solution, however, involves more than just obvious advice and irritating appeals to morality; it requires a thorough consideration of the established living and drinking cultures at Bard. As is, it’s impossible to completely blame the students for this mess, since Bard allowed them to move off campus. Yet the administration can claim it isn’t their fault that certain students chose to move off campus. (Although it’s unlikely that Bard would currently be able to house each and every student on campus anyway).
But the separation of on and off campus is detrimental to the safety and unity of the students. If you live in Tivoli, it’s easier to “go out” in Tivoli, so you’re more likely to primarily socialize with other people who feel that way–namely, other people who live in Tivoli, who you probably see enough of as is. “Hey, want a beer? What has happened in your life since I saw you three hours ago at Murray’s? Nothing? Word.”
Meanwhile, kids living on campus may encounter a similar experience at on campus parties–which, to be frank, are oftentimes under attended. That sparks their interest in going off campus, hence the impending relevance of the transportation issue. This phenomenon also contributes to social redundancy, as the kids who do end up making it to Tivoli have an established methodology that allows them to get there, and they have probably done so for the past four weekends.
It’s up to the students not to disintegrate into complacency and look the other way when a peer is about to make a dumb and avoidable mistake. And it is the task of the administration to evaluate the residential mechanisms it has set up, and consider whether they play a role in students’ likelihood to make dangerous decisions. Bard is a place to think, drink, and successfully navigate four years of education and transportation.
Photo by Violet Williams/ Bard Watch.
To respond to this article, or to submit an op-ed, contact email@example.com