Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A (somewhat) rational response

Sorry for Partying has left a new comment on your post "Another hectic weekend for APD":

Geeze I'm starting to wonder what you would even write about if these "kids" weren't having a good time - every other article is about "the party house of the week". If Amherst is so interesting and great without college students then find better material. You practically re-write the police log...

I wonder if you've ever experienced a "good time" as a young adult. Sing or dance with friends? Get rowdy? Consume an alcoholic beverage, perhaps? If you had one fun bone in your body I bet you'd understand why college students behave this way. That Peter Clark kid has a good point - what's a party without music?

Contrary to popular belief, most UMass students actually do school work throughout the week. Getting into this school isn't as easy as it once was, the class of 2014's average high school GPA was a 3.61. (compare that to Boston University's class of 2014 that had an average GPA of 3.6) So when the weekend rolls around I think most of the students deserve to party, drink and make some noise without being charged $300 for a noise violation.

I have had nothing but good times with great friends at this school. It's unfortunate that more and more people have been getting arrested. What's funny is that I've partied at most of the houses featured on your "blog" and they've been GREAT. I can remember each one like it was yesterday - Tracy Circle, PIKE, Meadow Street, Townhouses, South Prospect and Summer Street! The guys at these houses are incredible too, if you actually went out of your way to meet and interact with some of the student body I'm sure you would agree.

"Did you know the airport was there when you moved in?" UMass Amherst has been around way longer than you have, and so has the partying. Why should it stop living up to the name ZooMass? I talk to alumni and they reminisce on the glory days - did you ever have those? Did you ever go to a party with 100+ of your closest friends? Do you even have 100 friends?

This school is the best thing that has ever happened to me. And honestly I feel bad, because if I remember correctly you have a daughter - who will NEVER get to experience the UMass I did, If she even chooses to go here. Which, by the looks of it, you probably wouldn't let that happen. Heaven forbid she drink and dance at a party in college with tons of people. Although if she does decide to go here, I hope she doesn't get arrested for playing music too loud and drinking with her friends - wouldn't that just come back and bite you in the butt.

If you could wrap your head around the fact that these parties and gatherings are what complete the college experience, I think you'd have a better understanding as to why these things happen. We don't do it to spite the community or the police force - we do it because we enjoy partying. Hobart Hoedown has been a UMass tradition - and although you weren't the person who decided to have the police and riot force posted up on the street that day, you're part of a community that supports that. We have four years where it's socially acceptable to party our butts off and have the time of our lives and then we have to grow up and participate in real-life. If you could go back in time and relive a day of college - what would you wanna be doing? Sitting in a living room playing a board game on a Saturday night with 5 of your closest friends or be dancing to loud music in a house drinking wiith 100 - 200 of your friends?

...please enlighten me

Thanks for writing--as opposed to using text speak. I'm actually coming up on only the one year anniversary of my popular "Party House of the Weekend" series," which commenced on October 18th; and since then I have put up 58 posts under the tag "nuisance house" out of 1,696 total posts (not counting this one) or .034%--hardly "every other article."

And my family first moved to Amherst in the early 1850s--before UMass was founded.

Interesting, isn't it? When you shine a spotlight or hold up a mirror to their actions people often respond with criticism of the messenger who is simply holding the mirror/light, and try to portray them as somehow overly fixated.

I also notice that my Party Boy, newsworthy friends Peter Clark and Emerson Rutkowski have changed their names on Facebook, as though that is going to throw off the Google stain effect.

But you bring up a good point. Where do you draw the line between kids just having a good time and behavior that simply should not be tolerated by civilized adults, assuming you believe--as I do--that 18 to 22-year-old students are adults and civilized?

I found the perfect example on Peter Clark's Facebook DJ business page (a link he has now deleted) and sent it to the Amherst Select Board and acting Town Manager. It's called 121 Meadow Street and it consists of a little over nine minutes of raw video documenting the "party" at 121 Meadow Street. A party that soon thereafter became a "riot" with rocks and bottles hurled at responding Amherst police officers.

The state of Massachusetts recently passed a "crowd control" law which requires one sober employee for every 250 people at an event. This was in response to the tragic Rhode Island station nightclub fire that killed 100 people who were--just prior to that--having a "good time."

If I had to guess that 121 Meadow Street party, at it's peak, would have required 5 or 6 sober crowd control personnel. At about the five minute mark you can hear one of the tenants of the house saying plaintively, "I gotta get this car out of my driveway..."

What if it was a life or death emergency where every second counts?

That same night the Amherst Fire Department was swamped with calls--many of them UMass students having had too much to drink. Our Town Manager slipped and fell last month and was seriously injured. The quick response of AFD probably saved his life. But what if all the ambulances were too busy with drunk kids to have gotten to him in a timely manner?

A while back a sitting Select Board member's husband needed an ambulance, but they were all tied up with UMass type calls. A Northampton ambulance had to bring him to the hospital.

Although 121 Meadow Street is Ground Zero for student housing, there have been numerous parties just like that in residential neighborhoods (sounds like you attended a few) that are not dominated by student abodes--where average people go to work or school, deal with life in a responsible mature manner, and need to get some sleep.

They also take pride in maintaining their property and hate it when a neighboring house looks like a trash dumpster that was hit by a wind storm. Or when Party House patrons deposit cups, bottles, cans, vomit--or worse--on their property.

Oldest saying in the book my young friend: "All things in moderation."


Anonymous said...


Thank you for documenting the sense of entitlement of these young people. It contributes to the discussion.

LarryK4 said...

No problem. As you may know I have had some folks accuse me of making up some of these type responses.

(I'm simply not that good of a writer.)

Anonymous said...

"We have four years where it's socially acceptable to party our butts off and have the time of our lives. . ."

To my naive college friend:

That is precisely the point. It is not socially acceptable, not in this town, not with these community members.

It may be socially acceptable for you but that's tunnel vision.

That's like me saying it's socially acceptable for me to come into your house and rip you off. You may not like but tough shit.

It is socially acceptable to drink in the USA, but not to drink to the point of rioting. Then you are breaking any number of socially accepted laws. And then you will face consequences, just like I would if I broke into your house and stole your stuff.

You may learn this easy way or you may learn it from inside a jail cell, or you may learn after you've been expelled from the university.

One cannot riot in the name of the college experience. If you can't learn to drink without rioting, then you've got some serious problems which will definitely catch up with you before long.

If you can only drink to get drunk and riot, good luck getting and keeping a job. Good luck making it to 30 years old.

But every time you riot anywhere near my neighborhood, we will all be calling hte police and encouraging them to punish you to the full extent of the law.

We're tired of your shit and we won't take it anymore

Anonymous said...

No....... Really?

Anonymous said...

Hey 2:43

Time to move.

Anonymous said...

We all live together in this town, and students are not second class citizens. Even if they eat dinner at 2 PM and the rest eat at 6:00, they have the right to do so. Where is UMass in all this? Why don't they open up bars on campus, and then be responsible for crowd control, rioting, etc. It's all a question of where the parties take place...

Wondering said...

I wonder, if these college students really need/want to have parties as part of their college experience, are they willing to negotiate when/where/how many and other such parameters? I hope some students will answer this, because what I hear is an assertion of their rights, but no discussion on reasonable limits.

Anonymous said...

Do we really need a death or two at one of these parties to make the point? Or have too many brain cells been killed already for it to sink in?

They have duped themselves into believing that it's always been like this at UMass.

They fail to see how things have evolved over time into something bigger, meaner, more uncontrollable, far more dangerous, with more lethal drug and alcohol combinations. And many of the police that they are squaring off with are their contemporaries, barely older than they are.

In my day, UMass students were engaging in group streaking and heckling political speakers. They were poorly behaved at times. They were not squaring off with police officers and throwing things at them, never mind dropping gallon jugs of liquid down on them from the top of Southwest.

History provides no defense here.

Anonymous said...

Interesting the assertion that "students are not second class citizens".

I hear students saying that they play by different rules, that they are above all of us, entitled by virtue of their age and their status as college students. They don't seem to be saying that this would be ok for other young people who are not in college to engage in this kind of group behavior. They are not saying that this would be ok in their home towns.

No. This is protected space for them, where the standard of behavior is different for them, and the rest of us, young and old, can just go to hell.

Anonymous said...

The Meadow Street riot, I believe, is an exception as opposed to the rule at this school. It's rare that something like Meadow Street happens. Students do not riot and gather like that at this school every night, I would know. Come winter time with the colder weather, smaller house parties will be happening, give it some time.

I believe there's a general uproar from the student body about this subject because the houses getting in trouble for these so-called "riots" are not having riots. Not every off-campus house is trying to reciprocate the 121 Meadow Street party. Only one person living at 121 Meadow was arrested for that 1,000+ person backyard banger, whereas on Summer Street eight kids were arrested. Each charged with a $300/person nuisance house bylaw and noise violation fine!

Might seem fitting unless you were at both parties and recognized the insane differences between the two! Meadow Street had an outside DJ, backyard filled with over 1,000 kids, everyone outside & beer bottles being thrown at police officers. Summer Street was a moderately small gathering with music(no DJ), everyone was inside except for 5 - 10 people on the back porch, everyone left the house when the police came, and there was no riot gear necessary. Yet they were required to pay MORE fines than a riot on Meadow Street. Does that seem fair?

I can see how most kids are going to be "unreasonable college students" who demand "the right to party" (which I support)but if you want to find a solution don't start a war. You're older, smarter and wiser than that - figure out a creative way to solve this problem. Or you can just keep blaming UMass, the AFD/APD, and the students, in which case it will never be solved.

Stop calling the APD. The police are legally responsible for responding to these calls which is taking them away from you, the community members', needs.

P.S. In that Meadow Street video, the guy who says "I need to get this car out of my driveway", was referring to the car's alarm which was going off at the time. Irrelevant to the discussion, just funny you brought it up.

LarryK4 said...

Well I'm glad you think the Meadow Street Riot was an "exception", although I can't quite tell if still consider it okay or not.

Obviously Peter Clark (aka FAH-Q) thought so, since he posted the link on his Facebook page. And it seems he's the de facto spokesperson for the "Fight For Your Right To Party" movement.

Only one person was arrested at Meadow Street because the police were too busy dispersing the mob.

I'm well aware the car alarm was going off, my point was what if someone in the house had a dire emergency and the kid was trying to get the car out to bring that person to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

The other difference between Meadow Street and Summer Street is the neighborhood. One is student dominated the other not.

Neighbors are NOT going to stop calling APD, so methinks it is incumbent on YOU to figure out how to "solve this problem."

Anonymous said...

Larry - I commend you for responding with such class. Sense of entitlement is putting this mildly. These kids are selfish, self-centered and shallow. If they are this stressed about a mere week in college, they're certain to have a nervous breakdown in the real world. It is no wonder the rest of the world looks on America with such pity and hatred. I would, too. This makes me shameful to be an American.

Anonymous said...

"Does that seem fair?"


Fair? You are kidding right? Are you two years old?



Anonymous said...

I've had it with these kids.

Millions of men and women YOUR AGE are starving in Africa right now. They cannot eat. They are dying.

Millions of brave men and women YOUR AGE are standing up to a dictator in Libya.

Countless men and women YOUR AGE are facing gunfire 24/7 and returning home in body bags to fight for your freedom - to party?

Yet you're spending your time bitching because one party was fined less than another - because you don't feel that's fair?

Can you even comprehend the fairness of granting a person like you an education in the first place? Do you even know how many people would love to go to UMass but cannot afford it. People who have two parents struggling with a job right now? People who were born into less than perfect circumstances?

You are truly a despicable human being.

Anonymous said...

Do you notice how the "right to party" posters always shift the burden onto those who simply want to live in peace and quiet? As Anonymous 10:49 does, while demanding that we stop calling the police.

Even the attempts at reason from this crowd ooze of entitlement.

The burden for partying and not bothering others rests on them. It requires diplomacy and the capacity to empathize with those not living with the privilege of being full-time students. You know, the ones who can't "blow off steam" and expect the community to look the other way?

Anonymous said...

UMass only guarantees on-campus housing for freshman students now. They have increased the amount of students accepted each year, which means more students have to seek off-campus housing. This demand for housing in Amherst has resulted in a lot of college students renting houses in residential areas. I think over these next couple of years there are going to be a lot of students moving into these neighborhoods. Just something to keep in mind.

11:05 - You're talking about UMass. A lot of kids that go here do pay their own way through school. I wouldn't suggest bringing up mommy and daddy funded educations unless you're talking about Amherst College.

LarryK4 said...

And whenever anybody proposes building off campus student housing of a proportion that could actually make a difference, the NIMBYs go nuts.

Anonymous said...

"the NIMBYs go nuts."

Larry - You're contradicting yourself. You're saying it's okay for kids to party in hoards next to someone else - on the Gateway, etc. But it is not okay near you? Please rethink this.

This is a problem UMass has to solve, and it has to stop burdening ALL of its neighbors - those on Fearing and thereabouts included.

Maybe it's time UMass bought nearby houses - at a considerable profit to the owners - and properly expanded its campus. Maybe it's time University Drive was nicely developed with apartments and high-rise dorms.

But, regardless, you need to stop calling one group - those who disagree with you - NIMBYs while calling the other - who agree - proud homeowners.

LarryK4 said...

I don't think a "party" like the one at 121 Meadow Street on September 9 is acceptable in any neighborhood, or even on the UMass campus. Period.

I was thinking of this from the venerable Gazette:

"In 2004, JPI Development of Irving, Texas, attempted to purchase 14 acres off Rolling Ridge Road near North Pleasant Street in Amherst from the Hope Church to build about 200 units, 150 of which would have been used for college students, with the remainder set aside for affordable housing. This plan ran into stiff opposition from residents, and the developers, needing a comprehensive permit, were rebuffed by the Select Board in early 2006 before ever going in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals."

It would have been a well managed high-end operation that would have paid the town considerable annual tax revenues not to mention the $500,000 the developer offered in cash up front to get the permit.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 4:06,

If you think that there's not an identifiable group of Town Meeting members who will fight any and all efforts at building additional student housing, at a scale that would matter, you either haven't been living here or haven't been watching enough Town Meeting (although doing so for appreciate amounts of time is a tall order of tolerance). Larry calls these folks NIMBYs. Call them BANANAs if you want (Larry can give you the precise definition of that acronym).

But each time a proposal is made in Town Meeting, episodes of student drunkenness and hooliganism like the ones documented on this blog are either cited in detail or referred to in passing in opposition. So we're stuck at an impasse. We need more off-campus student housing, but we have weekly student behavior that demonstrates why no one would want to live close to it.

No need to attack Larry for describing the political situation as it exists.

Anonymous said...

Hey, that uncharacteristically non-namby pamby Bulletin editorial gives me an idea! (Somebody grew a spine over there.)

Time to take those chain saws when and where they could do the most good: sunrise at several key locations in town.

Ed said...

Folks, I am going to say this one final time: READ YEATS.

"And the middle shall cease to hold."

Some ask if the students will be reasonable. I ask if anyone else will be. I am neither expecting that nor peace anytime soon -- and people *have* died, Adam Prentice comes to mind, as does Maura Murry.

What we have here is a smaller version of Belfast -- an inexorably increasing civil war that is going to get bloody. Buildings are going to start burning, property owners are going to start realizing they are the soft targets for retaliation against the police - who can't be everywhere. And as each side escalates in rage, it is going to get nastier and nastier.

UMass is a powder keg in a way I have never seen it before. Students -- real undergraduate students and not high school kids (eg your little darling sons 'n' daughters -- who do a lot more of what you attribute to the "UM students" than any of you realize) are stressed to the point where it is scary. Kids on the very verge of nervous breakdowns in the library, you didn't use to see such things.

"Walking the walk" of social justice would mandate we be concerned about this -- they are *someone's* children, and their parents love them as much as you love your children. Larry, as much as you love your little girls -- and don't tell me they will be immune from youthful indiscretions...

The Rodney King riots of nearly 2 decades ago were not about a PCP-crazed crackhead who somehow managed to get a Yugo going 90 MPH (how is beyond me) but a pent up visceral rage at the LAPD and authority in general. So to here.

So forget social justice and how you would like other folk to treat your own children. Think self interest. Ask yourself how much property is actually worth in South Central LA right now, and ask yourself how little it could become in Amherst.

Without peacemakers amongst the 'townies' offering an Olive branch (at this point the whole damn tree) this town is going to burn. I pray that I am out of here before it happens, but it inevitably will. You will get the war you want, but it won't be what you want....

Ed said...

0ne other thing -- I remember standing in Lot 71 conversing with a Gazette reporter in the '90s and predicting riots. He didn't agree with me, saying that if there ever was a (singular) riot, he would love to cover it though.

A decade later, we nonchalantly accept this rioting as no longer extraordinary. And I say that the town is going to burn for the same reasons I said rioting was coming, I was right then, and I think I am right now.

And direct all personal attacks to /dev/null because I really don't care. Personal attacks don't change facts, folks, and this town is going to burn. You will get the us & them war you asked for -- and it will not be pretty....

Anonymous said...


Next Sunday, just as the sun is peeping over the Pelham Hills,

The Amherst Chain Saw Symphony

Every chain saw in town pulled and played for a good half-hour, preferably right under the window of your favorite student hell-raisers.

And since they've been making up their inalienable rights as they go along, we'll simply say "it's part of the Western Massachusetts hick experience".

We'll call it "a community event".

Anonymous said...

Given the insensitivity these self-absorbed kids show toward their working adult neighbors, the next logical step for them in life is.........

Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

I think the chain saw symphony is a great idea!

Anonymous said...

But first, before the chain saws: a baby screaming with an earache who couldn't sleep the night before due to the student "music."

Someone I know (25 years ago)didn't have access to a chainsaw but she DID have metal pots and metal spoons.


Anonymous said...

Lol, old man is sad that the kids know how to party