San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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August 11th, 2008
This Martian Life

I first came to San Marcos in 1999 as a transfer student to SWT. That’s back when a student could get a really good debauch on. I must have been one of the seemingly few people in the world to not know about the ‘party school’ reputation, but I quickly bought into it. It was hard not to when 18 year olds were getting hammered in the courtyard of my dorm with impunity.Before I took an extended, ill advised, hiatus from school things started to change. Parties were busted with more regularity than before. Not so many beer cans were piling up in the courtyard. Things quickly went from “Laissez bon temp roulez”, to “Veni, vidi, vici” before you could say, “What in the hell is he talking about?”

Oblique witticisms aside, as far as the community was concerned, enough was enough.

Of course this did not go over well with the student body. The more politically savvy students wanted to express their pleasure at the ballot box over the crackdown, but back then they would have had to stay in town over the break to do so. Relations between the students and the city experienced a definite chill. Tensions were running high and I wasn’t exactly sorry to leave.

Fast forward to four years later. After yanking my head out of my posterior region and realizing that quitting school wasn’t my smartest move, I re-enrolled and came back to a very different campus. Students were starting, albeit grudgingly, to admit that maybe their off-campus neighbors had a point. Don’t get me wrong. Parties still happened, Sagewood was still, well, Sagewood, and we still did (and do) dumb things, but the misplaced “Up against the wall (expletive deleted)” attitude was much less prevalent.

That’s why I’m glad to see things like the recent Achieving Community Together efforts start to take root. It’s actual progress.

Some out there would question the impact of a small thing like this. It seems only symbolic; a walk though North LBJ and Sagewood just talking to people. However, it would have been laughable, or at least poorly received in the bad old days by a sullen, apathetic student body and a justifiably angry community.

Yet it is in the small symbolic things that real solutions start to develop sometimes. For it to really take root though it needs to keep building on this foundation, and that’s going to take some work on both sides.

There’s one constant to being a student, and that’s pressure. Pressure to meet expectations. Pressure to make good grades. Pressure to keep the parents who are footing the bill happy, or just good old-fashioned all-purpose pressure. Can you blame us for wanting to let off some steam every now and then? It’s college. There will be, from time to time, a party. The only way San Marcos might be 100% party free is if the school gets magically teleported to some other part of the state, and even then I wouldn’t bet on it. So, when said party happens it isn’t the end of the world.

I’m not addressing that to the neighbors that happen to live next to his hypothetical party. Too loud is too loud and that’s just it. You have every right to complain. Rather, this is directed at those in the community who are somehow affected from across town that begin to beat the war drums and blame all of the city’s ills on “those students”. That really doesn’t help.

On the other hand, my fellow Bobcats, maybe throwing a huge kegger on a Wednesday night is not the best way to make friends with the neighbors. And yes…you really should make friends with them. By and large you’re here for four or five years, and only 2 of those are probably going to be off-campus. You don’t have to fight for your right to party. In fact I’m not sure a right to party even exists. It’s more of a privilege. If you don’t believe that I have some choice stories from the start of the decade I could share with you.

In short, don’t be jerks. Don’t turn the music up to eleven. Don’t have 50 “friends” over. Most of all don’t ignore your neighbor who has to be up at 6 AM to be at work on time when they ask you to turn it down or wrap it up for the night. When they inevitably call the cops, you only have yourself to blame.

The best way to avoid needless confrontation is by keeping an open and honest dialog, and the ACT efforts are a great start. I hope they continue and are expanded on. The more we draw a line between the campus and the community means the less both sides can enjoy the resources a place like Texas State and a town like San Marcos have to offer to each other.

By SEAN WARDWELL
Associate Editor

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0 thoughts on “This Martian Life

  1. The move to extend the bar hours to 2 a.m. is to come before the City Council this week, with a referendum in the offing.

    Some say that it would help with the party situation, as they would do their partying at the various watering holes downtown instead of at home.

    I say the parties would just start later, and wind up later, to the consternation of the neighbors, who would get absolutely no sleep, probably in a school/work night.

    And it wouldn’t keep some of them from driving on to Austin on a full tank, so to speak, only later, and coming back even drunker during morning rush hour traffic.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Wardwell, we have to understand the reality in which we live, we are a college town. With all do respect, I have to completely disagree with Ms. Charlotte Dallas, in my humble opinion, her statements are completely far-fetched and unreasonable. There will not be a need for the younger community to drive intoxicated and continue partying in Austin, if they are afforded the same amount of time to party in San Marcos. Not only will we prevent lives from deadly risks, but also, we would keep these party-goers in a specified part of town that can accommodate for all the noise and excitement, thus keeping it out of our neighborhoods. Im not by any stretch of the imagination saying that parties will completely disappear, but I would go out on a limb and say that they would diminish in size, frequency and overall disturbance.
    I do have to put great emphasis again on the fact that there will be no need for party-goers to drive intoxicated to other cities that have extended drinking hours. Our streets and highways will be less dangerous for all citizens, but most importantly, the young lives (that are enjoying their college years) will be less likely to be put in harms way on their commute to Austin or even San Antonio.

  3. I can see how this might help with the drunk driving issue. Certainly, it would take away some of the incentive to go bar hopping in Austin. Of course, 6th Street is still 6th Street and there will always be a draw.

    Similarly, it may calm down some of the parties, but many of them go well beyond 2:00 already.

    I have no problem with 2:00 hours in and of itself and have actually supported efforts to change the hours in the past.

    What I would like to see is a more comprehensive plan of attack put forward to tackle the drunk driving issue. Just as more enforcement cannot be the be-all end-all solution to the loud parties, it cannot be the be-all end-all solution to the drunk driving issue either.

    Arresting drunk drivers is too little, too late in many cases and it would be far better to keep the drunk drivers off the road in the first place, by finding creative ways to promote/reward designated drivers, offering more alternative transportation options, having after-hours options to allow things to wind down and people to sober up (perhaps the bars can stay open until 4:00, with all alcohol off the floor by 2:00, who knows?).

    It is great to see that there is at least one other person on each side of the 2:00 hours issue who sees that we have a real problem with drunk driving today.

    It is tragic to think how many young lives have been derailed by drunk driving and in a college town, of all places, we should be far more protective of the young adults who have come here in the hopes of opening doors and following their dreams.

    Let’s not let the issue of 2:00 hours divide the community, but rather take this opportunity to shine a light on a problem that will take all of us to resolve.

    Just as I am sure nobody would care about parties running until 5 in the morning on Sagewood, if it weren’t for the live bands in tha back yards, the screaming, etc, nobody would probably be too concerned about bars staying open until 2:00, if they were confident that those behind the wheel were sober.

  4. My concern is bringing students from other towns if we open bars until 2 am. This can bring a lot more troubles than noise.

  5. I agree that this may bring drinkers (students and non-students) from out of town, just as it does in other cities and towns with 2:00 hours.

    If we address the real issues, like drunk driving, then more people coming to town to spend money is a good thing. More people staying here and spending their money is a good thing too.

    We need to focus on the problems that come with the drinking, rather than try to keep the drinking out of San Marcos.

  6. I agree. Maybe we should approach the economic developer about contacting a more established and larger taxi cab company about coming to SM. It will be needed for the conference goers too. I’ll look into that and ask around.

  7. Good idea.

    Glad we’re back on the same page (I think).

    Something else that came to mind recently was that the bars might offer perks for designated drivers. Some perks, like no cover charge, could be handled by the bars directly, but others could be done in conjuncion with other area businesses.

    For example (and this needs more thought given to the details), what if people who identified themselves as designated drivers were given green bracelets. If they collected 10 bracelets, they got a gift certificate to the Wine Cellar or something.

  8. If we want the convention center to succeed, then we need to extend the bar hours until 2am. We will not attract repeat conferences once word gets out that we shut down at midnight. We also need safer bike routes so that more locals are riding instead of driving to the bars, and a decent taxi service to get people from the convention center (and all parts of town) to downtown. I think that it has the potential to actually help some of our other problems. I don’t think that it is going to bring in many people from elsewhere, since all the bars are open until 2am in the surrounding areas already. Maybe if it means an expansion of live music. In every other town I’ve lived in, standard party time was 10pm, when the bars closed at 2am, you went home. Here, people rush to get drunk are still wide awake at midnight, and then decide to have a party which goes until 4am, or drive to Austin and get extra drunk. It’s not going to end parties. Nothing ever will, but I think there will be substantially more people deciding to go home at 2am. Drunk driving is always a bad thing, but if we reduce the number of miles driven while drunk, then we are substantially reducing exposure to drunk drivers, and making the roads safer.

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