Elon University administrators did their part in muddying up campus when they chose not to provide hoses outside residence halls for students celebrating Festivus Sunday, April 26.
Traditionally, students who participate in Festivus leave trails of muddy footprints and ruined clothing behind them as they trek home to shower and recover from the festivities.
This year, lacking hoses — and perhaps sobriety — with which to clean off, these students undoubtedly created a mess for Physical Plant staff, who don’t deserve such treatment.
The mud students tracked across campus and into their dorms had to end up somewhere.
Robert Buchholz, associate vice president for facilities management and director of Physical Plant, said some of it ended up plastered on buildings.
The university hasn’t always deprived students of the tools necessary for cleaning off.
MarQuita Barker, associate director of residence life for operations and information management, said the university has provided hoses for students to use after the event for the past few years.
But this year, administrators decided against it because Festivus is not a university-sponsored event, and they didn’t want to “enable students.”
According to Barker, the goal of not enabling students with hoses was to stop the growth of Festivus as a campus tradition. She confirmed that any hoses outside campus buildings were provided independently of the university.
There’s little that can be done to stop Festivus from taking place. Entertainment news organization “BroBible” has been involved, and, after all, Festivus has a reputation to uphold.
As an event planned by an independent group of students not recognized as an on-campus organization by the university, Festivus is almost completely free of the administration’s control.
If administrators can’t stop it and won’t join it, they might as well prepare to deal with it. The university should do something to minimize the damage, and preemptive hoses are a logical solution.
Barker said mud-induced damages inflicted on residence halls would result in fines for individual students. If no one owned up to damages, community fines would be imposed.
This tactic sets students up to receive fines even if they didn’t attend Festivus and creates additional work for the people responsible for containing and fixing the wreckage of the event.
It was inconsiderate of university administrators to expect Physical Plant staff to clean up a mess that was exacerbated by the university’s efforts to restrict an event that doesn’t align with the crystal-clean image the administration would like to portray.
Students who created messes and caused destruction on university property should be penalized. Physical Plant workers should not.
Of course, Festivus is one of Elon’s less glamorous events. It’s coordinated by students. It’s not catered by Aramark. There are no nametags. Maroon and gold balloons don’t fill the air.
It’s not at all surprising that university officials would want to prevent the tradition from growing in popularity. But withholding hoses was the wrong way to go about it. In fact, it was counterproductive.
It prevented students who took part from doing what they could to minimize the damage. It imposed unwarranted fines on students who chose to not participate but whose neighbors or roommates did. And it left Physical Plant workers to deal with the carnage.
Not supplying hoses for muddy students isn’t going to deter them from attending Festivus — it only keeps them from hosing off afterward.