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Minding your manners

It’s surprisingly easy not to be a jerk. All it takes is a shred of self-consciousness and a degree of shame and humility. And yet, all too often (especially during celebratory periods), etiquette is disregarded and put aside while morals degenerate. Case in point — the recent Lawnparties.

Naturally, following the end of second semester classes and the imminent end of the school year, students want to kick back and have fun. While such a mentality is certainly acceptable, it in no way condones the types of detrimental behavior that often arise in such situations. For instance, while walking back from the Street after Lawnparties festivities, a group of students for some reason felt compelled to see how well they could shatter a champagne bottle. Besides the obvious safety hazards (flying glass + short pants = a formula for disaster), it was also just a thoroughly rude action. Of course, these students didn’t even bother trying to clean up after themselves; rather, they just laughed and walked away, leaving a pile of fragmentary shards lying in the middle of a road for the next passing car. They ignored the students who could very well have been harmed by the broken glass. And they even shamelessly strolled by a group of shocked tourists who had happened to witness the event.

Lawnparties itself was no different — upon hearing that the Nomad Pizza Company truck might be running out of dough, several students unabashedly sidled up to the front of the line to stand with their accomplices, completely brushing off the infuriated students they had just cut. Scuffles broke out as some students tried to get as close to the stage as possible by pushing others out of the way. And countless partygoers dumped their solo cups on the ground because it would apparently have been too much effort to walk 10 feet to the nearest trash can.

Alcohol may likely have factored into the problem — after all, inebriation often encourages irresponsible and reckless conduct. But the question of whether intoxication may have caused the aforementioned behaviors is not the point — rather, the point is that, at events such as Lawnparties, it is all too easy for some students to forget (or at least to forgo) basic responsibility for their actions.

In turn, when such students act in dangerous, detrimental or derogatory ways, they reflect poorly on the University community as a whole. They send a message that they are at once isolated from and immune to basic rules of social behavior at these special events, that participating in these celebrations renders them beholden to no standard of proper conduct. During Lawnparties, especially, when there was a higher confluence of visitors on campus also enjoying the festivities, negative behavior presents an inaccurately negative portrait of Princeton to tourists and outsiders.

All of this is not to say that celebrations like Lawnparties need not be fun events; however, there are ways to have fun that don’t involve jerk-like behavior. A first step would be for the students who act inappropriately to realize that their behavior reflects on the school as a whole and that while they are free to have a good time, it is also important to remain cognizant of the fact that they are perpetually contributing to the collective image of Princeton. A detrimental action on the part of a single individual (or a single group of individuals) can do much to tarnish our overall reputability. Further, downplaying the perception of lawnparties as the “last” time to have fun before reading period and finals week would likely help — after all, a carpe diem mentality is ostensibly what drove these students to act so foolishly, and I doubt they would have acted similarly during a random school day. For most students, this is hardly the “last” time they’ll be able to have fun — there are plenty of events over reading week, and once summer begins, too, there will be plenty more opportunities to relax without schoolwork looming over their heads. Such a mentality is no excuse for dumb behavior. Ultimately, it is great to unwind and let loose, but having a fun time should not come at the expense of manners.

Jason Choe is a freshman from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. He can be reached at jasonjc@princeton.edu.

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