So the city and the university have finally drawn the line in the sand – according to a letter from the Madison Police Department, “There will be no Mifflin Street Block Party.” They are also cancelling having an unsanctioned good time anywhere that weekend. Good. I’m sick of the half-assed attacks on Mifflin; if they want to have it out, let’s do it for real.
First, let’s see how we got here. It boils down to this – the city loves saying they have a top-flight university, and they love all the money we bring into the city, but there’s one thing that pisses them off: We love to party.
The idea that we want to stand outside on the first weekend in May, wear silly shirts, take a beer bong and yell for no reason other then it feels damn good bothers them to no end. They don’t understand – it doesn’t fit with their vision of who we are supposed to be. They love that we work hard and that we accomplish great things throughout the year, but they hate the fact that a lot of us chose Madison over everywhere else because, you guessed it, we play hard too.
Before I get into the condescending letter MPD sent out, let’s talk about Revelry. Executive Committee Chair Sarah Mathews said they “find it offensive that he would use our festival as a scapegoat,” referring to Officer Matthew Magolan, who told The Badger Herald, basically, when everyone just goes to Revelry, everything will be peachy. I don’t think the Revelry team wanted to kill Mifflin, but seriously, when you work with Mayor Paul Soglin and University of Wisconsin Dean of Students Lori Berquam, spare the shocked reaction when they use you for their obvious goal of ending Mifflin. It’s not your fault this happened, but at the same time, you made your bed and you have to lie in it. Also, your band list sucks.
Anyway, while I was planning last week to attack the failings and university-backed nature of Revelry, the actions of the city are obviously what matters. So let’s get into the “you are basically children who normal laws don’t apply to” nature of the letter from the MPD.
First, from the letter: “If you are considering hosting a party in the downtown area on or about 05/04/2013, the City of Madison is strongly recommending that you reconsider.” Let me get this straight: The police department’s job is now dictating when I should have a party, and that’s OK? This is what gets at the heart of the issue. It isn’t “Mifflin concerns us,” it’s “you guys shouldn’t party that weekend.” For students only, and on this weekend only, the city thinks it is OK to turn downtown into a police state, where they will seek and destroy any attempt at having unsanctioned fun. Ridiculous.
Next: “If you look under 21 and have alcohol, you will be asked to provide proof of age.” It’s official, the Constitution is being thrown out that weekend. I’m 23, but people say I have a baby face, so go ahead, demand my ID – the Fourth Amendment is really more of a guideline anyway. Ridiculous.
Why stop there? Let’s get to the outright threats. Your attempt to enjoy the best spring weekend in the country will lead to “the possibility of eviction” and, just for good measure, “may include anything up to expulsion.” Having a beer, while trying to meet some other students, potentially a lady friend (I’m single, ladies), will result in your imminent destruction. Ridiculous.
Oh, and don’t even think about playing your music loud (THE HORROR!) because “You will likely receive a noise citation with no warning.” Because how dare you pollute a sunny May afternoon with music. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t go straight “Footloose” and try to ban dancing as well. Ridiculous.
I’ve been asked why I feel the need to defend Mifflin. After all, they say, “We don’t need another excuse to drink.” Wrong. We don’t need a reason to drink. We are adults; we can have a beer on a 30 degree Tuesday in February just like anyone else. But what we can’t do everyday is celebrate with the school at an old-fashioned block party. Also, what are these other campus-wide party days that we have in the spring? Much like Halloween in the fall, we have one major event in the spring: Mifflin. Honestly, compared to the football Saturdays of the fall, large-scale parties are absent in the spring.
I defend Mifflin more than any event we have, not out of some misplaced adolescent desire to get hammered, but because it represents everything about this school that makes me proud to wake up a Badger. Yes, our academics are awesome, but it is the social life here that sets UW apart for me. Mifflin happens to be the pinnacle of that life, and is, as it has always been, meant to be a celebration of everything it means to be a Badger.
Simply put, it’s just fun to get up early and party with your whole school after a winter of cold and two semesters of hard work at a top-notch university. To the powers that drove us to this point, I would ask that you pay attention to the entire reputation of this school, not just your idea of what that reputation should be. We are not all made in a predictable image of the perfect student, and the social scene – Mifflin very much included – played a large part in why a lot of us decided this was the university for us.
So when May 4th rolls around, the powers that be have decided it is us versus them. They made the statements and they set the stakes. I fully expect this campus to show up and remind the city we are not children and we are not criminals. We are students at one of the best universities in the world, and yeah, we like to party.
John Waters ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in journalism.