Don't mess with Fred Fest

Administrators cancel annual festival in misguided attempt to curb out-of-control parties

Administrators at SUNY Fredonia have decided to cancel their end-of-the-semester festival in an attempt to stem the binge drinking and rowdiness that has dominated the college in years past.

Controlling student drinking at the end of the semester? Good luck with that.

The cancelation of Fred Fest – a free, annual weekend event sponsored by the university featuring concerts, picnics and other (non-alcoholic) events – will not put an end to students’ parties.

Instead, it will deprive non-drinking students of any form of celebration and drive students who do want to party to drink more, dance harder and ramp up the rowdiness for the sake of some good old-fashioned rebellion.

College is a rare, fleeting four (or so) years that offer opportunities never to be seen again. Drinking en masse with strangers-turned-best-friends, chugging from balcony-level beer bongs and taking shots in bounce houses – this only happens at Fred Fest, Syracuse’s Mayfest and many similar end-of-the-year events at colleges nationwide.

Many universities face dilemmas similar to Fredonia’s. Sponsoring a wholesome, fun event for students to unwind after classes end is a generous and worthy move, but it is also extreme and often generates extreme levels of off-campus debauchery.

And although many, or most, students love it, it’s understandable that college administrators and community members do not.

Other universities, including SUNY Oswego and Iowa State, have canceled similar events, according to The Buffalo News.

Syracuse University attempted – unsuccessfully – to curb off-campus drinking with a heightened police presence during the campus’ all-day, all-night celebrations. SUNY Cortland imposed similar restrictions and succeeded in keeping parties under control.

But Fredonia is joining the ranks of campuses disappointing their students with the unnecessarily harsh decision to cancel its event entirely, demonstrating a lack of flexibility and creativity.

Rather than shutting down the festival, Fredonia should at least attempt to try solutions that offer a compromise.

Encouraging attendance at campus-sponsored events, making more severe penalties for off-campus partying known in advance, promoting more reasonable levels of alcohol consumption and working with community members to acknowledge their requests would provide Fredonia with more control over what they seem to view as an uncontrollable situation.

Currently, Fredonia’s solution will likely end up causing more problems.

Students who don’t want to drink but feel like celebrating the end of the year will now face a dearth of non-alcoholic options.

Local restaurants and hotels, which benefit from an influx of alumni and visitors coming to Fredonia for the festival, will also lose out.

Students who typically party and drink, seeing that Fredonia doesn’t care for their lifestyle, will see no incentive to respect the university’s restrictions.

Fredonia has turned a win-win situation into a lose-lose-lose scenario. Canceling the drug-free elements of an event that once catered to all students may only drive more students to drink.