Ne'er A Drop To Drink

"There were people everywhere, dancing, singing, drinking and just having the best time of their lives," said Mike, one of my friends from home who goes to the University of Michigan.

"What weekend was this?" I asked.

"Uh, every weekend," he responded.

One night this summer, a few of my friends from home and I were hanging out and talking about all the fun we had had this year at school. I wasn't talking much (I wonder why?) so I just sat and listened to what they were saying.

"Dude, it was awesome! Like 500 people were packed into this small dorm room, the music was blasting, people were swimming in beer and even our resident tutor was dancing!"

Everyone else applauded in accord, remarking similar if not exact situations at their own schools. My friends exploded in laughter as the sweet memories of fun were revealed. I felt a little excluded and so, as the concerned friend I added, "Gee, I hope you guys signed party forms!"

Complete silence.

Feeling my face heat up and assured that I had turned bright red, I tried to save myself: "You did sign a party form, right, 48 hours before the party because you could get in big trouble if you don't."

More silence.

Then someone said, "What the hell is the matter with you, dude?"

"Uh, at Harvard, we have to file these forms and..."

Don't get me wrong. I have had a ton, well maybe not a ton, perhaps a better word would be some good times at Harvard. But for a school that promotes intellectual independence and growth for its students, we are, in reality, treated like a bunch of barbaric children.

In order to have a party, even if it is just for a few people, students need to submit what is called a party form, two days in advance. All roommates need to sign it, your tutor needs to approve it and sign it and your senior tutor needs to okay it. All this for a party. And if your party will have alcohol, more signing and approval is mandatory. This is required, I am told, to ensure the presence of an "adult" in the near vicinity of your party to oversee it. An "adult?" What in the world are we?

Unless I am seriously mistaken many Harvard students are hundreds, even thousands of miles away from home and as a result are pretty much on their own. This means we have tremendous responsibilities. Many students have jobs. Some of us pay our own bills, while others even run newspapers, important clubs and associations. But we are not allowed to run a party. A party? It must be hard for us to ensure that no one drinks too much, and that no fights break out, and to prevent whatever it is that Harvard administrators fear.

I have no desire to swim in beer. I can't even swim in water. I have no desire to beat up my friends. I don't really have that essential height or size advantage. But I would like to have a party once in a while, when I want, inviting as many people as I want, without five tutors present and without having to go through yards of red tape.

I understand the need to alert others in your entryway and to be considerate to the possibility that others may have exams or may be ill. But filing party forms for the sake of ensuring the presence of a watchdog is ridiculous. We are not children unable to handle the responsibility of throwing a party.

There are certainly other social activities at Harvard in which students may partake. But a party is different. There is a little more potential for fun. Isn't the right to party somewhere in the Constitution? Well, it should be.

I won't argue with anyone who says that parties do occur, however rarely. Maybe I'm just crazy to think that a "social gathering" that must end at the tender hour of one o'clock and in which the music must be kept to a barely audible level is not really a party.

Part of my anger stems from a desire to party hard without being punished for it. But the other part is caused by a feeling of being stifled here, too closely watched. Worse case scenario: A party lasted until four in the morning, hundreds were dancing and drinking and having a good time. Will somebody tell me what is so wrong with that?

Nancy Raine Reyes' column appears on alternate Saturdays.

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