Off-campus ‘gangsta’ parties held across the country get students in trouble

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

It’s not a major secret that parties, alcoholic or not, are a staple of college life. Students across the country are finding ways to spice up the average Friday night party with themes.

From superheroes to decades, SDSU students are finding creative ways to spend a weekend night.

Brittany Zwanziger, a sophomore early childhood education major, has hosted several of these parties with themes like the 80’s, the Roaring 20’s and Tour de France, at which participants drink a box of wine, ride a bike to the next house on the list, and repeat until they pass out. She is currently planning one based off of prom in “Laguna Beach.”

Themed parties are creating national media attention at campuses across the county.

Of all the fun Brookings has to offer, off-campus theme parties may be one of the most popular choices. These gatherings are part of a growing national trend and are now a hot topic in the media.

Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., along with Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., is under fire for an off-campus party hosted by white students over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend that has been labeled offensive, according to the Associated Press.

White students were accused of participating events that may be considered racist to African Americans. Photos were posted online of students drinking malt liquor and at least one student wearing blackface. School officials are investigating possible harassment and underage drinking and are considering taking disciplinary action. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is also investigating the racial allegations. Several of the students involved have publicly apologized.

Do theme parties at SDSU cross the line to offensive, and could students be punished for them even though they are off-campus?

Marysz Rames, vice president of student affairs, acknowledges that the school realizes theme parties do happen here at SDSU, but she says the school has never dealt with anything like what’s happening at Clemson.

Zwanziger said she doesn’t think any of her parties have been offensive, and doesn’t think SDSU officials should be concerned with punishing students for what they do off-campus.

“If that were to happen, we probably wouldn’t host theme parties anymore, but I can’t see any of our parties having room for scrutiny by the school board, at least I wouldn’t think so.” she said.

The university could take action for something that happened off campus if the event was sponsored by an officially recognized school related group and on an individual student basis, depending on the offense, Rames said. If it were to happen at SDSU, school officials would need an official complaint form in order to do anything, she said.

If SDSU were dealing with a racial issue similar to the one Clemson University is struggling with, Rames said the school would attack the problem from both a short term approach, disciplinary action, and a long term approach, educating the students about the damage racism can do.

Rames hopes SDSU never has to deal with something like this. She said she thinks it’s especially disappointing that anyone would throw a party like this on a day that we honor a civil rights hero. She said that problems like these make her wonder if educators are doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.

“It makes me wonder what’s happening at some of these schools that something like this would happen,” Rames said.

Rames is not sure that the students should have publicly apologized yet. She thinks they probably should have waited on a public apology until the entire investigation was finished.

Regardless of how Clemson has handled the issue so far, Rames thinks this will be very tough for everyone involved.

“To really get at an issue like this, no matter who you are, you need space, and I’m not sure how Clemson will get there.”

#1.883772:1624717268.jpg:themeparty.jpg:Students at a toga themed party.:Courtesy Photo