Editorial / The pre-diploma debacle
Published 6:05 pm, Thursday, May 3, 2012
A few have had spots in the family business waiting for them since they were in middle school. A few others will get enough cash as graduation gifts to spend the next 10 months touring some other continent. Some will go to graduate school.
But most college seniors graduating in the next month will have to hit the bricks to find a job. And what better way to sabotage your career than to get yourself a criminal record in your final days as an undergrad?
Sticks in the mud that they are, few prospective employers seem to appreciate the humor in criminal trespass, public drunkenness, disturbing the peace or assault.
So untold numbers of Fairfield University students should be thankful that when security forces turned them away from Saturday's "Clam Jam" bash at Lantern Point, they averted the possibility of overdoing it and getting arrested.
It's OK, kids; hand-written thank-you notes to area residents who this year insisted that order be maintained won't be necessary. A tweet or a text would be nice, though.
Clam Jam long had been an alcohol-fueled, last-fling ritual in which university seniors renting houses at the beach hosted huge and often unruly parties.
Residents along Fairfield Beach Road finally had enough of the sprawling bashes, and in 2001 they won a court order capping Lantern Point parties at 250 people.
Since then, visitor passes were required to enter, and Clam Jam had kind of clammed up.
That is until two years ago, when 500 students showed up -- in violation of the court order -- and police made 26 arrests.
Then last year, there was a full eruption. More than 1,500 kids converged on the point as students reportedly ran off photo copies of visitor passes and a local cab company ran vans labeled "Clam Jam Transport" from the North Benson Road campus.
Neighbors vowed it would not be allowed to happen again and took their neighborhood back.
Last weekend's show of force by local police, extra cops from Bridgeport -- including the Park City's vaunted horseback unit -- and private security officers kept the lid on the party and maintained order.
Fairfield University has a pretty good business school. The young men and women getting management degrees there could do some on-campus consulting work advising classmates that the kind of behavior witnessed at Lantern Point in 2011 is no way to get ahead.
Urinating in residents' backyards -- yes, there were reports last year of females relieving themselves in public, too -- tearing down fences and forging guest passes are not skill sets in high demand by employers.
Fairfield University this year took a significant step toward better town-gown relations when it moved its bookstore to downtown -- filling a huge void left by Borders Books' departure. The university put on a wide array of free programs at the bookstore, bringing in authors, musicians and its own academics.
The university has little control over what its students do off campus.
But it could set up a structure that would encourage the final fling to be on campus -- averting clashes with property owners and unruly off-campus behavior that smudge the reputation of a fine school.
While there is no surf on North Benson Road, it was too chilly at Fairfield Beach last Saturday to go in the water anyway.
The university could define for itself what is acceptable behavior, provide its own security so local taxpayers aren't stuck footing the bill and provide medical assistance to students who overindulge.
And when the revelry was over, students who live at the beach could be delivered there safely on a campus bus.
Keeping the party on campus would reduce the chances that some seniors would have to add criminal acts to their resumes.