I'd like to think that I'm no fuddy-duddy, which by merely using the term fuddy-duddy probably establishes my bona fides as indeed a fuddy-duddy. Still . . .
As a young man in college many years ago, I certainly participated in more than my fair share of unrestrained partying. To be sure, there is nothing capturing the college experience more than waking up on a Saturday morning smelling like a keg of beer and trying to remember the name of . . ., well let's just leave it at that.
So I'm certainly sensitive to the needs of all those scholars at the University of Tampa who feel the call to Budweiser — and heed it with abandon.
Still . . .
It seems that when UT students complete their weekly intellectual rigor examining the works of Shakespeare, the philosophy of Duns Scotus, the foreign policy brilliance of George Kennan, the economics savvy of Adam Smith and the scientific acumen of Stephen Hawking they love to get completely, totally, thoroughly plastered, schnookered, loaded and not to mention 10 sheets to the wind.
Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. As my late father told me when I went off to school — study hard, try to make something of yourself, but don't forget to have a good time. Yessir. My father was a wise man.
Still . . .
It appears the UT revelry has impinged on the neighborhoods near campus where many students live and entertain their guests, which can number into the ribald hundreds on some occasions.
Most recently, residents of North Hyde Park, which is really an attempt to seem trendy when the area should be more properly referred to as South West Tampa, or perhaps Near Downtown, or maybe Lower Tampa Heights, or perhaps Hillsborough River Estates, complained about hordes of malt-fueled staggering UT matriculators converging on the streets to imbibe followed by serial public urinating, mailbox assault, mass littering and various stages of lewd behavior.
It is probably fair to say these are not gatherings of the Phi Beta Kappa crowd.
If you think all the Spartan bacchanalia is somewhat scandalous, imagine if you were a parent coughing up roughly $35,000 a year to send Muffin and/or Troy to UT, only to discover your tots were behaving badly enough to make Animal House look like Goodbye Mr. Chips and it was all captured for posterity on YouTube no less?
No one could argue UT students aren't entitled to blow off steam and yes, act supremely stupid now and then. That's one of the unspoken reasons to go to college — to make mistakes, to learn from them, to grow up.
Still . . .
UT was once saddled with the unfortunate reputation as the destination campus for the academically challenged, but financially gifted student.
But over the years, the school has worked hard to raise its standards to demand more intellectual rigor and responsibility among its students. (Full disclosure: I have taught at UT as an adjunct instructor and found my students to be bright, engaged and diligent in their studies.)
But it only takes a few (or perhaps in this case, a few hundred) knuckleheads to undermine a frivolous image that the school has worked so hard to escape from.
UT should use this issue as a teachable moment for its students — that having fun and throwing a party and being a good neighbor are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Part of growing up is a student acknowledging the time has come for less higher and more education.