(Note: This was written over several nights, mostly due to the fact that I work a changeable schedule and got too darn tired to write it in one go. While I don’t think it’s perfect or expresses ALL of what I wish I could say, I do think it’s a good consensus. For further background outside of what I already gave: I work at a local business sometimes influenced by the college, I know some law-enforcement officials, and I also spent an evening listening to the actual scanner this night. So, what I report isn’t what was rumored, but what I know to have been.)
Disrupting the scheduled programming for writing discussion with a little opinion drop on something that’s hit local, state, and even national news over this past weekend.
I’m writing a little removed from it because I did want to decide exactly how I felt about things I continue to read about after the fact. A lot of what I realized is that the nature of media and culture is a lot different than 12 years ago. To be fair, I’ve had to consider that a little when composing this because I think the massive amount of social media technology we have does lend itself a bit to the exposure every moment of this last weekend got.
I went to a SUNY (State University of NY) school in what’s now kinda my hometown, Cortland. Cortland’s kinda known as a school for teachers, and it’s actually a pretty good school if you apply yourself. It also has a reputation as a bit of a party school, and it’s not undeserved.
Back when I was in school, drinking Wednesday nights through Saturday nights was the norm. Monday and Tuesday were about the only day you’d see students consistently in class. There were two big parties, Cortaca and Block Party, and Block Party was actually the more “known” of the two. In fact, I don’t recall too much talk by classmates about this infamous rivalry game that turns into party central. Maybe that’s because I never was the party girl (I hate crowds, loud/dumb people), and I actually didn’t truly drink until I was 21 (The Untruly might be for another entry…haha). I know, atypical college girl.
For those uninitiated, Cortaca is a longstanding rivalry between Cortland’s Red Dragons football team and the Ithaca College Bombers. Cort (Cortland) aca (Ithaca). Get it? Okay, it’s longstanding (like 50+) years, and somewhere along the way, a Cortland captain bought this ceramic jug to serve as a trophy for the winners. Up until the 80s, game scores and winners were written on the jug bought, and when it became too full, another was purchased for the next bunch of games. For the last four years (including 2013), Cortland has held the jug; it is the first time since the 50s that they’ve held it that many years in a row.
Block Party was a massive drinkfest held in the Spring right before finals. People poured into a local street, close to downtown and the college, and basically drank, acted dumb, drank some more, and oh, yeah, imbibed alcohol. Every year, the party grew bigger, with people coming in from neighboring schools and the actions of the individuals getting drunk (cause, we all know what some drunk people can be like) escalated to the point where local Cortland residents, who, ya know, live there year round and have families, jobs, and property complained and did something about it. Rules were made, block party was shut down.
By the time Cortaca really hit my awareness, I was well out of school. I think the absence of the Block Party made it all more essential to the SUNY Cortland culture to emphasize the Cortaca to the point it became this weekend.
Look, I’m not a prude. I may have been a goody-two shoes in college, but I understood the let-loose philosophy of my fellow students. I didn’t appreciate it in that I lived it, and frankly, screaming women at 2 am was never an amazing soundtrack to sleep, but it was an expected thing. Back then, stories were on hard copy. Pictures taken on actual cameras with actual film, maybe a camcorder, and legendary stories were word of mouth. Every successive year could be “better” than the last without even being different because drunken memory works about as well as a 2 month old sleeps.
So, get to the point Lauren. The point is…Cortaca 2013 was this last weekend. And, oh boy, was it a riot.
No, really, it was.
Look, Cortland has a big drinking culture outside of the school. The college is not solely to blame for the plethora of bars, liquor stores, and very well stocked grocery and convenience stores. The locals, to be honest, well support the drinking nature of the town. Trust me, the bars don’t close in the summer or on breaks. Enough locals drink with regularity that depending on the college isn’t a “need” thing. It’s a perk, a surplus, and quite frankly, a bonus.
But Christmas type surprises come in strange packages, and red-hued packages are offered up as Cortaca (red being Red Dragons’ color).
Bars, liquor stores, grocery, convenience, and other local shops start planning for Cortaca weeks in advance. They know people will drink. They order to meet demand. Some downtown businesses rewrite schedules to close because they really don’t want to deal with drunken students, but they don’t want to subject paying customers to it as well. Most locals brace themselves. Be prepared for a lot of yelling, a lot of drinking, and probably a lot of trash on the lawn. It’s actually a treat to read the local paper after a Cortaca weekend. Police beat doesn’t even list names, just the quantity of offenses because they really don’t have the room to identify everyone in the paper.
Then, you just hope for the best. You coast it, you survive it, and when it’s done, breathe a sigh of relief that the next one is a year off.
So, all of that is a little background. It’s needed because, frankly, unless you’ve lived through several of these, understanding what exploded this weekend would be hard. Going through it, over and over, reading people’s comments, looking at videos and pictures, twitter feeds and Facebook posts, I started thinking about a whole bunch of crap I really shouldn’t think about.
This weekend, before the game was even over, Cortland State students, alumni, out of town guests and townies (as they’re called) poured out of houses, dorms, and neighborhoods and into the street near downtown that used to host the Block Parties. This street is lined with many landlord owned student housing, but also has a lot of local residential houses. It leads up a hill that connects with some of the streets running through the college proper. It, by default, became a bit of party central, as up to 6000 people just settled in an area maybe two blocks long. Things started getting heated, people were crawling onto their roofs, throwing grills, tvs, pieces of furniture at people below. Some were throwing themselves off.
Most Cortland alumni will now chuckle. That’s pretty normal. People do stupid stuff when drunk. Then, it escalated.
I’m sorry, partying alumni who chuckle at their own youthful indiscretions, terrifying young children, yanking pizza delivery men (who are just feeding party goers who order, no less) out of their cars, trying to tip said cars, and then shoving cars down a hillside into other cars, things are a little beyond a “good time.” They’ve come into the category of, “WHAT THE F- IS GOING ON?” territory. How about all your neighbors, who are tax paying citizens and invest in their city feeling trapped in their homes because your butts needed to be so insanely drunk and raucous the police gave up on policing and just crossed their fingers? How about those porches cars ran into? How about the houses destroyed that landlords now need to invest insane amounts of money in, but you somehow treat as if you own it? Maybe those fences your drunk ass ripped down in neighborhoods because they prevented you from walking where you want? What about those 16 year olds arrested for public intoxication because someone, somewhere, thought it was, hey cool? Or the countless assaults and rapes not reported, but most likely happened? What about those?
The argument that, of the 100 or so that city police managed to arrest were only a handful of students mean nothing. City police admit they gave up. Dispersing an ever increasing crowd became more important than the amount of collars. Does that mean the college is absolved?
I guess my opinion is such: Sure, college means parties. It means drinking, stupid actions, and things one might not always remember the next day. Sometimes, you do stupid crap. Part of it, though, needs to be a recognition that if you expect to be treated as adults who can purchase and consume alcohol, that you also are willing to accept and pay the repercussions of your actions when you choose to do all those things. College should also be teaching you something, too. It’s not just about the ease of alcohol or pot.
Today, we live in an age where every action can be filmed by the tiny camera in a cell phone, whether video or photo. It can instantaneously be uploaded to the internet for everyone to see. This includes our parents, our grandparents, teachers, or even prospective employer. Every bare butt exposed in some drunken revelry can now haunt us forever, and not just because someone was really fortunate to get it on hard copy. Thousands upon thousands of people outside of this small city of Cortland have now seen your ass. Some might even be people you one day want to pay you to do a job.
Now, commissions are being raised to decide what to do about this game this year. My thoughts? It’s college oriented, even if the students have decided to make it party central. So, no offense to my alma mater, but maybe you need to foot the bill on the location, the security, and all that surrounds this weekend to keep it going. Maybe you need to stop shrugging your shoulders that the party culture of Cortland has finally escaped your excuses and admit to be what it is. Drunk people don’t conform to what they’re expected to be without some outside influence. Be proactive. Show this town that you seem to act as if it revolves around you, that you care. Don’t just say it. DO IT.