This Saturday, throw your fucking house party.
The Mifflin Street Block Party – or what’s left of it – is upon us, and we all know the Madison Police Department and the city of Madison have made a concerted effort to end the event that is without precedent. This weekend, the MPD is actively engaging in a campus-wide campaign to stifle house parties. The important thing to remember is that they do not have the right to stop legal-aged adults from inviting friends to their homes or apartments to drink on a Saturday afternoon.
The original initiative of ending the gathering on Mifflin Street has become an active campaign to prevent students from inviting friends to their houses. We’ve heard reports that MPD is actively discouraging gatherings on May 4 in the Langdon, Regent and Mifflin neighborhoods, and we strongly disagree with this action. A 21-year-old working a nine-to-five job in Chicago and paying $800 a month in rent would never have a police officer or property manager come into his home and tell them he could not have guests.
We understand why the University of Wisconsin administration, the police, city policy makers and Mayor Paul Soglin all want to end the Mifflin Street Block Party, and we realize the need for a decentralized approach to enjoying the first weekend in May. The overcrowding, violent crime and sexual assaults associated with 20,000 people descending on one city block were real problems that needed to be addressed.
That era of Mifflin is finished. That’s what the university, the city and the police wanted – now, they need to allow the event to disperse naturally. This means allowing student parties on Langdon Street, State Street and Breese Terrace.
A Saturday house party is perfectly legal under city laws and under your lease agreement – provided you don’t have one of those fine-print draconian leases. The MPD letter telling students not to have parties anywhere in the downtown area is an intimidation campaign, and it is unfair to the law-abiding residents of the area. Student status does not deny a person basic legal protections. MPD simply does not have the authority to stop students from inviting friends to their homes.
We do not see any justification for those actions – addressing the logistical problems of policing Mifflin Street is one thing, but telling all of us what to do in our homes is another. We do live here, and pay rent, and buy groceries, and pay tuition and pay to park our cars – so we feel it’s reasonable to demand that our rights as residents be upheld.
Look, what is Mifflin about? It’s about enjoying the sunshine before finals while partying with friends, and that’s OK. As students, we are willing to be flexible – we want everybody to be safe. However, we don’t think that being safe and having fun are mutually exclusive goals.
This year’s May 4 festivities may look and feel much different than those of years past. Nevertheless, certain rules of engagement never change. We say this every year in our last issue before the party: Know your rights and conduct yourself accordingly, watch out for your friends and exercise moderation in all things – especially moderation.