Fun Time Rules

Some people are great drivers on a road with painted lines, but put them in an open parking lot, an open field, and they’re lost. Without lines, they have no clue where to go. They need structure. And it’s not enough that they get structure for themselves, but they demand that the structure they need be imposed on everyone else.

How is it possible that they could need structure and others don’t? How is it possible that others will do things that fail to comport with the structure that makes sense of the world to them? These are the rule-demanders, and they love them rules. They love rules for themselves. They love rules for you. They love rules.

Now, the current crop of pioneers at Antioch are moving the conversation beyond sex to discussions of consent in platonic touch.

When Alyssa Navarrette, a third-year student who is studying anthropology and art, came home for her first visit after starting college, she was taken by surprise when her mother hugged her.

“If you don’t want to be touched and your mom wants to hug you, you should be allowed to say no,” Ms. Navarrette said. “It’s about having autonomy over your own body.”

The squishy concept of the “reasonable man,” subsequently changed to the reasonable person as ironic recognition of the fact that the word man was offensive to some, taught that normalcy and propriety should not be based upon the sensibilities of the most fragile and delicate in society. There were always people for whom the norm was too . . . normal, and who wanted greater protection for their needs, their feelings, than the norm could provide.

We refused to allow them to set the bar. For one thing, there was no bottom to the feelings of fragility, as someone would be hurt, offended, outraged, by anything, so to that person, anything and everything was off-limits and needed to be prohibited. For another, it provided no notice, so no one would have a clue what they were prohibited from doing, what would give offense to that one particularly delicate soul.

The norms arose organically, out of whatever the majority of people decided was the proper way to behave. Norms could change, and they often did, and so the rule-demanders saw no reason why they shouldn’t continue to change to align with their feelings.

“It’s a framework for how to engage with everyone, on every level,” said Angel Nalubega, a 22-year-old fourth-year history major and a dorm resident adviser. “It helps promote respect for all people in the community.”

“Respect” certainly sounds like a good thing to promote, except this was a rationalization to justify the creation of rules that met her feelings at the expense of respecting other people’s choices. And, as students at the University of Pennsylvania learned, it carried a steep price.

Cami Potter first spotted a professional party pooper in September.

She’d just finished another excruciatingly long week at the University of Pennsylvania. The 21-year-old senior, who writes for the school’s 34th Street magazine on top of studying English and cinema, needed to unwind. So she went to a party off campus — actually, “party” is too strong a word for it, she says: “I don’t even think we had music.” Potter threw back a couple of drinks and mingled with some fellow students. Then, as she stepped outside to leave, the enforcers arrived.

The “enforcers” sounds ominous, and, indeed, they were.

These university employees, technically known as “event observers,” told the college students to scram. But they didn’t tell the students why they were being reprimanded, according to Potter: “That’s where it gets blurry.” After all, she and her friends weren’t on campus.

Potter also says the workers were wearing bulletproof vests and arrived with police officers: “People were very scared. To have anybody show up in a bulletproof vest anywhere you are can be a little bit alarming.” On top of their apparently sub-par communication skills and SWAT-team getup, there’s something else unusual about Penn’s event observers: They don’t just bust frat parties. They monitor students at all social gatherings.

Was there a room somewhere in the bowels of a UPenn student union where the sparrows waited for a red light to flash, signifying a party somewhere, anywhere, where students were having unsafe, unacceptable fun? Were they drinking demon rum? Were they uttering prohibited words? Were they breaking the rules?

When people get hurt, the community springs into action. Students say that what they and their predecessors have built here isn’t perfect, but that the culture is as close to an ideal as they’ve seen.

For the rule-demanders, the ideal is that no one ever get hurt. For others, the ideal is that they enjoy a little freedom and have, dare I say it, fun.

Hiring event observers isn’t all the university is doing to put the kibosh on good times. Penn has created something of a party-pooper industrial complex. Last year, the university unveiled new rules aimed at controlling social events even as it beefed up enforcement of old ones. If your student organization throws a party, on campus or off, regardless of size, you need to register it.

The rules derived from the well-intended desire to prevent the purported “epidemic” of campus sexual assault. Who could be against preventing sexual assault?

“In the student discourse,” says Spinelli, “the common theme was [that] Penn introduced a task force to stop sexual assault, and instead, it’s not allowing anyone to go to a party. Even though that’s not entirely true, there’s an element of truth to it.”

While the slippery slope is a logical fallacy, it’s neither fallacious nor slippery when the first step is taken with the intention of reaching the bottom, which is where rule-demanders want to be and always intended to reach. It’s not that they didn’t want to stop sexual assaults, in their expansive definition, but that they knew that freedom and fun were the root cause of their sadness and pain. Someone was having fun somewhere and that was wrong. It must stop.

Does that mean a person can’t tell her mom that she doesn’t care to be hugged? Not at all, even if it makes you an unappreciative, entitled, narcissistic little teacup. It’s your mom, for crying out loud. But once you empower the sparrows to make your rules, don’t be surprised when the price of your ideally safe world is the end of fun at the mandate of bulletproof vest wearing goons. That was always the plan, even if the rationalizations of “respect” never mentioned it.

27 thoughts on “Fun Time Rules

  1. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    This is awesome. A real world example of a total police state in our backyards. What do you get if an observer in the bullet proof vest for reasons, of course, sees an not consented to touching of hand to hand between coed students? A pink slip in the mail demanding you to appear before the Committee of Norms and Behavior to answer for your transgressions, naturally.

    Don’t even get me started about attendance at an unregistered party or attending a registered party but failing to register 21 business days in advance thereof. The lowlifes can’t even follow the simplest commands.

    Please, students, please. Protest this and party like you’ve never partied. Don’t let anyone overdue it to the point of harm to avoid the “ah ha” or “gotcha” moments. It must be done. Banners of “I thought this was America” or much, much worse, optional.


      1. Rick Horowitz

        Unless the bullet-proof-vest wearers think they need tackling.

        I mean, seriously, what’s the point of getting all dressed up like a jackboot if you can’t do some occasional jackbooting?

  2. Frank

    No warrant, no probable cause, trespassing on private property, no law enforcement authority. What could possibly go wrong?

  3. Matthew S Wideman

    This party monitoring was started at my college in the mid 2000’s and it is/was just as draconian and weird as it sounds in this article. Except it was usually a townie in a rent a cop uniform asking for a bribe to look the other way during festivities.

    At my college fraternity, we filled out a party form for every day of the school year morning and night, and we used the schools email registry as out list of guests. Suffice to say, we didn’t have a great relationship with the thought police. It was very chaffing then, and I can’t imagine how chaffing it is now with the expanded use of social media ratting out all of the cool parties.

  4. wilbur

    Somebody needs to grab Alyssa and say “God damn it, go home and hug your mother. She won’t be around forever you know.” And then take her to a regular nursing home just to look around. If that doesn’t wake her up, she’s hopeless.

    1. SHG Post author

      That somebody is mommy or daddy, who needs to tell her to sit down, as they have something to tell her and it’s going to make her sad.

  5. Jake

    This gives me an idea; perhaps the other readers of SJ would like to get in on the ground floor?

    The Consento-matic-1000 will be a block-chain based universal consent app which allows groups of two or more woke students to set their specific fun parameters before they enter a room. Then, by looking at their phone, they can self-select other groups of people with similar consent parameters. If the user finds they are approaching a scenario with unacceptable consent parameters, they can simply leave.

      1. Casual Lurker

        “It’s Consent-O-Matic 1000. And too late, I already own it”.

        Dear Mr. Greenfield,

        The Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks regrets to inform you that your utility patent application for the “Consent-O-Matic 1000” has been rejected for the following reasons:

        Disclosure: Too Vague.

        Claims: Too broad

        Prior Art: Substantial overlap with existing, in-force, patents and other prior art. (e.g., the Sentence-O-Matic).

        Other: Failure to submit a working embodiment for inspection, as requested by Examiner.

        Upon correction of the above cited deficiencies you have either 60 days or 2 years to re-submit a corrected application, depending on the applicable circumstances. Please see MPEP (Manual of Patent Examining Procedure) Chapter 1400 – Correction of Patents, 35 U.S.C. 251, and 37 CFR 1.221 (a) for further information.

  6. Erik H

    Antioch has a whopping 270 students across all grades and their oddity is precisely why people go there. We’re talking about 0.000007% of the U.S. doing fully voluntary experiments. It’s basically the equivalent of a sexy-SJ religious commune which also gives out a college degree: I would never go there myself, but more power to ’em for trying stuff out. And it sure makes for interesting reading.

    1. SHG Post author

      Yet, this piddling school managed to find its way into the New York Times. And it seeds has spawned misery at UPenn and elsewhere. Not bad for a school with 270 students.

      1. Erik H

        EVERYONE likes to write about Antioch. It’s a favorite target of conservatives (“look what the libtards are doing now, haha”) and also of columnists who have nothing else to do: the “college” factor gives it an imprimatur of institutional respectability which the 99%-er rallies were lacking. Sure it’s basically the same thing as you might get at a 99%-er rally, but this one has professors!

        But of course it won’t scale. It’s entirely predicated on pre-existing groupthink where they screen for potential disagreement before they test for it.

        1. Billy Bob

          We’re not Anti-0ch. We’re pro-Ch0ice. And the rest is H!$t0ry.
          What about 0berlinBerger cheese? Are they chopped liver? Just sayin’.

    2. JR

      Ah yes, in lovely Yellow Springs Ohio. Or as one of co-workers calls it, Berkley East. Just get off the highway around Beaver Creek, and past miles of corn fields and you will find Antioch and Yellow Springs.

  7. JAV

    “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
    Who would’ve predicted these kids would be the puritans of our time? Clearly I need to start reading Mencken.

  8. Christopher Best

    In 49 years we went from recognizing High School Students still had Free Speech rights to declaring that you entirely give up your Freedom of Association by enrolling at a State University. And apparently both ends of the spectrum were due directly to the desires of the students. What kind of world have I brought my children into.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s those darn kids. Whatever they have, they want something else. And they always want what we tell them they can’t have.

  9. Billy Bob

    Re-gis-ter it? I do not like the sounds of that [idea]. No, no way Jose, not now, not ever. Where is the Liberty Bell located? Inquiring Minds demand answers, immediately if not sooner.

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