Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Busting parties and breaking trust

Four BU students were put in jail on Tuesday for violating their probation after they were caught hosting a large party in their house at 85 Linden St. on Jan. 26. Upon entering the house, the police claimed they smelled marijuana, found at least 1,000 alcohol containers and also found “at least one underage drinker.” Fraternity members were playing loud music, drinking while underage and smoking pot? Shocking.

After BPD responded to a party at earlier in September, four BU students — Michael Oldcorn, 20; John Pavia, 20; Sawyer Petric, 19 and Terry Bartrug, 20 — pleaded not guilty at their court appearance in October. They were then put on pretrial probation and sentenced to 40 hours of community service, and their parents — sorry, the police — imposed a curfew on the house.

After police responded to another party at the house on Jan. 26, the four students were held in Nashua Street Jail after their hearing last week. Boston Police sergeant Michael O’Hara told The Boston Globe that these students were not held for keeping a disorderly house, but rather, “They’re being put in jail because of the fact that they violated probation … that’s a serious offense.”

Since these students are a part of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore suspended the fraternity on Thursday because these four chapter members were involved in planning and hosting this off-campus function.

For the underage college kids who all engage in similar activities, such ramifications seem annoying and unfair. However, no matter which way it is looked at, Oldcorn, Pavia, Peric and Bartug did do something wrong. None of these students are above the age of 21, they supplied alcohol at a raucous party, had marijuana in their house and violated their probation.

These four students were given somewhat of a “free pass,” after the first party was busted in September, and they deliberately did the same thing a few months later. Given that it is the second time for the same offense, the police are going to be a lot less sympathetic in their punishments.

However, at the same time, if the police are going to punish these four students so drastically, then how do they justify turning a “blind eye” to the thousands of other students who engage in similar activities?

According to a BU Today article, only 35 percent of first-year BU students say they don’t drink. So, that means, while Oldcorn, Pavia, Petric and Bartrug were put in jail on Thursday for hosting a party, about 65 percent of undergraduate students were engaging in similar activities somewhere else on campus.

If BU administrators and BPD are going to crack down on underage drinking, they at least need to be consistent in their response. By arresting some violators and just sentencing others to community service, they are demolishing any hope for a foundation of trust between authorities and students.

According to 2013 Alcohol Enforcement Patrol Stats, between the weekends of Aug. 29 and Nov. 14, Boston University Police Department, BPD and Brookline Police responded more than 40 times to either loud parties and to summons and/or citations for keepers of a disorderly house.

Boston Police sergeant Michael O’Hara said the two parties that were busted at 85 Linden St. were in, “the top 10 percent” of wild parties they have responded to — and, in case you were wondering, the other 90 percent of not-as-wild parties were probably happening around the corner all around the GAP, Allston and Brighton areas.

College kids and universities are stuck in a vicious cycle in regards to underage drinking. Students are going to drink no matter what, and since BU adheres to Massachusetts State law alcohol provisions, BU has to punish any student caught violating it. However, this means that when students are in need to help, they are most likely not going to seek it in fear of getting in trouble.

To solve this problem, BU and the police need to make us students less fearful of getting caught with alcohol. They need to educate us, talk to us, help us and listen to us — and only punish us within reason. Don’t administrators remember going to college?

Putting four students in jail during classes and midterms is by no means a punishment within reason. Such legal action will not make us students more vigilant with the alcohol use, but rather more resentful of our authority figures.


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