At approximately 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 25, the morning after West Chester University’s Homecoming, I was woken up by the fire alarm.
At first, I was concerned that someone was hurt, as it was far too early to be a drill. But, after standing around in the cold for ten minutes, the cause of the alarm was found: my neighbors were smoking weed.
As a senior student at West Chester, I learned long ago that drinking and parties were commonplace on and around campus. I am also aware that recreational drug use is not out of the ordinary, either. And while I don’t personally find these behaviors to be safe, I can respect the opinions of those who feel differently. This “party culture” becomes problematic, however, when it infringes on the lives of those who want no part in it.
In this situation, I may be the odd one out. Instead of attending the homecoming football game or going out on the town, I spent “game time” doing homework in the library, and my evening playing video games with my partner. I had no interest in going out, and felt that there were more pressing matters to tend to. But when I did not go to the parties, they found their way to me. My downstairs neighbors blasted music so loud that the bass could be felt through my bedroom floor, wandering students outside would occasionally scream in drunken merriment or anger, each worrying me that someone had gotten hurt, and the fire drill in the early morning made it obvious that valuing my studies and sleep was the wrong decision to make.
It is not as if the staff at West Chester University are blind to this, either. I remember the woman speaking to my peers and myself during freshman orientation, saying that West Chester is “the wettest dry campus in Pennsylvania,” and then chuckling as if it was a big joke before reminding us that alcohol is prohibited on campus. Meanwhile, every student knows that the RAs are not allowed to open anything while doing health and safety inspections, which means that all any student needs to do is put what they do not want found in a drawer or closet until after the week of inspection.
The “party culture” of WCU is so huge that it even has its own merchandise. This year’s homecoming shirt was printed with the phrase “I Can’t Feel My Face at WCU,” in reference to The Weeknd’s recent single “Can’t Feel My Face.” Other shirts seen around campus parody the Jack Daniel’s logo, with “West Chester” in place of the liquor company’s name, and the word “Whiskey” replaced with “Wasted.”
After the ridiculous number of assaults we hear about on campus, especially when you keep in mind that very few assaults are actually reported, you would think that something would be done to make the campus safer. Instead, anyone who does not want to get caught up in the parties and drinking stays inside Thursday nights, and often into the weekend as well.
It sometimes feels like those who want to study or sleep are punished for their choice – if you are not into partying, you had better stay in and invest in sound-cancelling headphones, or just become much more used to unwanted noise. Calling Public Safety or an RA to complain about the noise level only does so much. Some students do not care about noise violations, like my downstairs neighbors who did not quiet down until hours after my roommate and I reported them, and who we had reported for the same thing the night before. As far as help from the RA goes, we cannot always be certain that they are actually helping. Some students do not care, and some students never hear from the RA, who could have decided to ignore the issue because they are busy.
At the end of the day, I really do not care if other students want to go out or have a party. It only becomes an issue when their lifestyle intrudes upon my own. I came to West Chester to study and get my degree, not to spend my weekends drunk and yelling. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way, too. We may be a minority, but we deserve the basic right to a quiet study space and the ability to sleep.
Megan Sabers is a fourth-year student majoring in business marketing. She can be reached at MS789222@wcupa.edu.