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Considering the University's party culture

Jake Fromm/Daily
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BY JOSEPH LICHTERMAN

Published September 28, 2010

As an Ann Arbor Police Department squad car pulls up to a house party on Mary Court, two students dash across a crowded porch — entirely naked.

AAPD Sgt. Earl Fox bolts out of the vehicle and sprints up the porch steps, but he isn’t fast enough. The streakers disappear into the house before he is able to catch a glimpse of their faces.

It’s after midnight the evening before the first Michigan football game of the 2010 season as Fox unceremoniously ends the party, and the crowd stumbles into the night. He gives the residents of the house that threw the party a noise violation — largely, Fox says, because they didn’t cooperate with the policemen by revealing the identities of the exhibitionists.

Fox has seen all types of lewd scenes in his 11 years patrolling the streets as an officer for the AAPD. But despite the various parties he sees going on nearly any given night around campus, the University is not typically featured as one of the so-called “party schools” on the national lists published each year by the Princeton Review and Playboy.

The police, obviously, are major players in the University’s party scene. They, among other duties, confiscate fake IDs and hand out citations for Minors in Possession of Alcohol and for open container violations. And, of course, they shut down parties if they get too rowdy.

Not all calls end in citations and controversy, however. Earlier that evening, Fox responded to a noise complaint on the 800 block of Mary Street. Unlike the residents of the house with the streakers, however, the individuals responsible for the excessive noise were cooperative.

The perpetrators, a group of nine people playing drums and guitars, singing and drinking wine and beer on the porch of their house, responded politely and with a sense of humor to Fox’s instructions to stop playing.

Jokingly, they asked Fox to sit, have a beer and jam with them. With a smile, Fox turned down their offer, saying he wished he could stay but, as a sergeant, he has other officers he is responsible for supervising who wouldn’t be happy with the decision.

As he turns to leave, Fox advised the musicians to encourage their neighbors to contact them directly if they are too loud again so that the police don’t have to be involved.

Following these party-related incidents, Fox deals with a potential fire at the Zaragon Place apartments, a few fights and a routine bar inspection. But just because there is a pause from calls to break up parties doesn’t mean they aren’t happening around campus, complete with slews of underage binge drinking. According to Fox, the AAPD won’t break up parties unless they receive a complaint or it becomes noticeably too rowdy.

“If I did that, we’d do nothing else other than that,” Fox said. “You’ll see that tonight we’ll be on one street (because) someone called about a noise complaint. But, then the next street will have a massive party, but nobody will call it in, (so we won’t do anything) unless it becomes a safety issue.”

This year, the University of Georgia topped the Princeton Review’s party school list and the University of Texas at Austin was number one in Playboy’s rankings.

Though the University of Michigan didn’t make either list, the schools that do appear on the lists share many similarities with it. The majority of schools on both lists are large public institutions, and six of the Princeton Review’s top 20 schools and two of Playboy’s top ten were Big Ten universities.

Seamus Mullarkey, senior editor of the Princeton Review’s “The Best 373 Colleges,” said the rankings were based on an online survey completed by over 120,000 college students from across the country.

“The party scene (category) is based on a different number of questions,” Mullarkey said. “It’s based on the use of alcohol and drugs on campus, the number of hours outside the classroom students study each day and the popularity of the fraternities and sororities on campus.


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