OSU party culture

Sarah Weaver News Reporter

Parties of all magnitudes in terms of size and levels of sobriety can be found in Corvallis, from kickbacks in the resident halls, themed fraternity parties, to large scale events like OSU’s music festival Dam Jam and large tailgates during football season.

However, according to Lt. Cord Wood of the Corvallis Police Department, parties involving the consumption of alcohol put students at a higher risk of injury.

“Intoxication makes you more vulnerable and more likely to have something bad happen to you,” Wood said.

According to Oregon State Police Station Commander Eric Judah, there are peaks and valleys in the party scene in regards to how many parties are thrown and how big they are.

For instance, fall term brings not only the start of a new school year but also Halloween weekend, a notorious weekend for party-goers across the state, as well as football season and the stream of tailgates that come with it.

Winter term, according to Judah, is a slower term for parties, but they still continue on a smaller scale.

However, when spring term comes and brings the nicer weather, parties start to be a more common occurrence, including the May trip to Shasta Lake in California as well as Dam Jam, Judah said.

OSP will often work with organizers of events such as Dam Jam to make sure the events are under control and safe for everyone, Judah said.

OSP often deals with on-campus situations such as parties in the residence halls, while the CPD deals with anything outside of OSP’s on-campus jurisdiction. According to Judah, CPD also receives backup from OSP on busier nights when there are more students out and about than usual in town.

“If (CPD) have a lot of parties going on, we’ll help them out. We’ll bring OSP resources to help them out in those off campus areas,” Judah said.

EMTs and the fire department also get assistance from OSP in their involvement in responding to on-campus issues. According to Judah, the fire department is one of the most often called upon branches of Corvallis first responders.

Parties in the resident halls, more specifically, calls for alcohol and marijuana in the rooms of residents are what OSP is most often called to deal with, according to Judah.

Judah also mentioned that some students who live in residence halls often go out and party, then come back to their rooms to continue the festivities, and it is then that OSP is called.

Being in possession of or consuming marijuana, alcohol, and/or tobacco may result in a Minor in Possesion (MIP). Being in possession of any other intoxicant such as MDMA, cocaine, or LSD is considered a felony, which is punishable by serving time in jail.

Since the passage of HB-4094 in Feb. 2014, underage drinkers in Oregon can call 911 to seek medical assistance for alcohol related incidents without receiving an MIP. However, according to Judah, that’s not the real reason behind the citation.

While Judah understands the intent behind the medical amnesty law, he believes that MIPs still have their place.

According to Judah, one of the reasons behind the MIP charge is to make sure that students can get help they may not have otherwise received through programs such as court-mandated diversion classes, sessions at CAPS and awareness programs through the Benton County Health Department.

It goes year-to-year on which residence hall gets the most calls to OSP every year, according to Judah. Sometimes it depends on who lives in the hall as well as the staff who is running it.

“Sometimes the resident hall staff is more attuned to what’s going on in the residence hall,” Judah said.

There is no one specific residence hall that has been getting the most calls to OSP so far this year, according to Judah.

Resident hall parties aren’t the only kinds of festivities OSU students can find, including off-campus parties in houses and apartments or in fraternity houses, but not any of OSU’s 11 panhellenic sororities.

According to Wood, the hosts of parties need to know who is at their parties and what they are bringing and everyone at the party has to be 21-years-old or older in order for alcohol or marijuana to be consumed – regardless of whether or not the host provided the substances.

“Legally, you need to know who is at your party,” Wood said.

According to Wood, there are multiple kinds of safety that hosts need to consider, including their personal safety and the safety of their guests.

Hosts of parties also need to know that they are responsible for their guests and making sure they are safe and acting responsibly even after they leave, according to Wood.

“If someone drives aware from your party and they crash and kill someone, you could be held civilly liable,” Wood said.

Wood also stated that party-goers also need to take their own personal safety, as well as the safety of others, into account as they partake in weekend festivities. According to Wood, some party-goers often put themselves in risky situations, such as falling, by drinking to the point of over-intoxication.

“People fall from windows, people fall from roofs, people fall from fire escapes,” Wood said.

Additionally, according to Wood, there’s also the risk for assault that must be taken into account by party-goers.

Judah believes that the party culture in Corvallis cannot be made safer, due to the prevalence of alcohol in OSU and Corvallis party culture and its correlation to sexual assault.

“I don’t think you can make it safer. I see this and people in the health field see it too, we talk to people about preventing sexual assault, and alcohol is the number one date rape drug out there,” Judah said.

According to Judah, there’s also simply a higher risk of incidents, when people over-drink or are partaking in drugs.

“If you have people drinking alcohol to an excess or taking drugs, there’s a risk factor,” Judah said.

According to sophomore English literature major Michelle Miller, fraternity parties are random in the sense that no two parties are exactly alike and one can see that if they engage in party-hopping, going to more than one party in a single night.

According to Miller, some fraternity parties or functions are preceded by a sober period where the two or four houses at the party or function will play games to get to know each other before the rest of the party.

People at fraternity parties can act as randomly as the parties themselves, according to Miller. Sometimes people will act differently or try new things such as drinking games or dancing styles in order to impress someone or just to try something new.

“I’ve seen people try to play beer pong to impress someone and miserably fail,” Miller said.

The drinking culture at fraternity parties is also varied, according to Miller. Some students go to parties and don’t drink at all and according to Miller, there is not that much pressure to drink.

“I’ve never really felt pressured to drink at a frat party, and I’ve never met anyone who has,” Miller said. “Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you have to drink every weekend and go out on Thirsty Thursday.”

In addition to being an attendee of fraternity parties, Miller also hosts parties at her apartment. According to Miller, house parties are often smaller events that are more focused in social bonding with a small group of friends.

“For me, it’s mostly a small get-together with some friends to relax after the school week,” Miller said.

According to Miller, the environment of the house party can depend on whether or not people are drinking as it can sometimes dictate what takes place for the rest of the night.

At Miller’s house parties, every guest knows at least one person in the apartment she shares with her three roommates. The environment of the party can also depend on the people in attendance, according to Miller.

While the parties are fun, according to Miller, sometimes issues will arise, including people getting too drunk or staying over for too long.

“Sometimes people get really drunk and belligerent and I’ve had to kick people out and other times we are completely sober,” Miller said.

According to Miller, people have wanted to keep the party going far past what she had originally expected and she has had to ask people to leave out of respect for her roommates sleeping upstairs.

“I’ve have to be the uncool mom roommate and tell people to leave,” Miller said.

According to Judah, something students and community members can do is educate themselves on party culture, safe drinking practices, and partying in a safe and legal way. Judah said students need to consider the possible outcomes of their actions, including legal ramifications, especially surrounding the use of marijuana.

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