Last St. Patrick’s Day, I remember leaving the house with one of my roommates on a people-watching expedition. Before either of us partook in any of the celebrations, we wanted to take the time to take full witness of the carnage that was ensuing just south of campus.
The Statement is The Michigan Daily’s weekly news magazine, distributed every Wednesday during the academic year.
If you’ve ever been in Ann Arbor on a football Saturday, you can probably picture the scene: kegs, mud, orange construction fences, mud, bro tanks, funnels, mud, and music. The difference was the substitution of green for the customary maize and blue.
As we walked passed an unnamed fraternity house on our way home for the afternoon, I noticed a group of middle-aged men and women standing on the sidewalk observing the destruction. They were all Ann Arbor residents and, despite the occasional shamrock pin, they were not there to celebrate. They were there to protect the students.
As partygoers exited the fraternity’s backyard, I watched as these adults stopped particularly intoxicated boys and girls to check their condition, asked if they needed transportation, and — in the most severe cases — contacted the proper authorities to get students the help they needed.
I remember immediately feeling embarrassed as a group of partygoers, obviously more concerned about preserving the health of the party than the health of their peers, gathered on the porch and heckled these Good Samaritans as they relayed information to paramedics and police.
Though visibly disturbed, the vigilant group of Ann Arborites did not waver from their spot. They held their ground as two paramedics and a police officer entered the yard to retrieve a young girl who appeared unconscious. Only as the party began to dwindle down — presumably a shortage of green beer — did they move down the block to the next party.
I don’t know any of the people that were in that group of citizens. They don’t know me. But, that day, they were out there to make sure our student body was safe. At worst, they shut down a couple parties. At best, they may have protected someone from serious injury or death.
This school is a world-renowned institution and naturally elicits a sense of prestige — and a fair share of perks — to those fortunate enough to have the chance to enroll. But, like other universities across the country, it places students in an environment that breeds a sense of entitlement while simultaneously clouding students’ perceptions of the “real world” outside this two-mile bubble.
That entitlement includes a belief that someone else will step in to protect us when we do stupid things. While this becomes the case in practice, it should not be the expectation. The old motto, “college is the place for making mistakes,” is not a free pass to make your safety — and potentially your life — someone else’s responsibility.
I didn’t end up drinking last St. Patrick’s Day. Witnessing so many “close calls” killed my desire to celebrate Christianity coming to Ireland and PBR coming to Hill Street. This year, I’ll likely celebrate with a non-green beer as I edit installments for next week’s magazine.
But if the group of unappreciated guardians decides to do their holiday service once more, I hope they are at least treated with respect — maybe even offered a passing “thank you” for keeping watch over crazy crowds of kids decked in green.