University could do more to shed ‘party school’ label
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a jewel in the crown of higher education statewide. The University has a commanding reputation for academic, extracurricular and athletic excellence, both nationally and in our home country. At least, that’s what the administration would like you to think.
The reality, however, is a bit different.
UMass absolutely has a reputation for excellence and achievement – its position as an undergraduate research university is not to be overlooked. However, it must be recognized that UMass is quite well known for, say, vibrant social scene.
That’s not a bad thing at all. I would argue that it is important for a residential college to offer a variety of social options, to accommodate the wide variety of personalities present in a particular class.
However, UMass’ national reputation as a “party school” may cause people to take the school less seriously than they might otherwise. Recognizing this, the administration has been actively trying to shed our “ZooMass” label for at least the past decade, revising the student code of conduct regarding underage drinking and maintaining a police presence to curb the festive riots on campus.
His efforts were not in vain either. UMass, while still very socially active, is a far cry from what it was when the reputation for rowdy and rowdy behavior first formed.
I would say, however, that the University does not go far enough. In fact, there are a few steps that are much simpler than bolstering police resources, such as keeping the library and other student-facing buildings open longer on weekends. While not a panacea for the perceived problem of partying, the move would at least give students a choice between going out and doing some much-needed work.
The early closure of campus buildings locks us as students into one choice for spending our weekends.
There are, of course, obstacles to implementing what I propose. Since the library has a large number of students, it might be difficult to find staff for the last shifts on weekends. True, but UMass is not limited to our student body to find workers. A financial argument could also be made, saying that UMass should spend more to pay sufficient wages to attract workers for the additional shifts in question. These arguments are superficially impressive, but once you realize that 30 of the highest paid public employees in the state of Massachusetts work for UMass, the budget concerns seem insincere.
Also, when it comes to buildings with classrooms, an argument about security issues could be raised. This is a much stronger counter-argument. Security issues are real, but there are plenty of ways around them.
One way would be to hire additional security guards for places like South College and implement a login system, like the one in place at halls of residence. Again, a budget counter-argument could be made here, but these simply ring hollow in light of what we know about UMass finances. Even forgoing any significant investment in new security systems, the University could simply compromise on keeping a few key buildings open, including the library and the Students’ Union, while others remain as they are. .
The ideas here are not a pioneering first iteration of a 24-hour study space. Hampshire College has a 24-hour ‘Airport Lounge’ in its library, open every day of the week, giving students the opportunity to study at any time of the day, even at weekends.
Ultimately, if the University really wants to rid us of our “party school” label, it’s slacking off right now. There are plenty of steps the administration could take, and what remains to be seen is whether or not it actually commits to taking them.
Manas Pandit can be reached at [email protected]