Editorials

St. Fratty’s report leaves a bitter taste

These photos show the scene before and after a roof collapsed Saturday, March 7, on Hathway Street near Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
These photos show the scene before and after a roof collapsed Saturday, March 7, on Hathway Street near Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Courtesy of SLO Police Department

Three months after the notorious “St. Fratty’s Day” fracas — the out-of-control party near Cal Poly that culminated in the collapse of a garage roof — we have an official report released by the university. The findings, based primarily on interviews of attendees, include the following:

Word of the gathering spread via social media.

Many students were drinking on the roof — aka “brewfing.”

Students were unaware the roof could collapse.

Because they didn’t know whether alcohol would be available at the party, “many students engaged in pre-gaming,” meaning they were already drunk when they showed up at the party.

Members of Greek organizations were there, but there’s no evidence that a specific Greek organization played a role in organizing the event.

Many students didn’t even have fun. Students on the periphery stated that it was “boring” and “hard to move around” because people were just standing around with no specific agenda or plan.

We’re not sure why it required three months and the hiring of an outside investigator for $2,500 to produce a report that contains so little new information.

All it took was one look at photos and videos of current and past Fratty’s Day gatherings to recognize that students climbed on the roof to drink. And does anyone really think college students are still using landlines and emails to spread the news about parties?

The report does reveal that Cal Poly charged some of the partiers with violating Standards for Student Conduct. Those students accepted sanctions spelled out in a settlement agreement.

Poly isn’t saying what those sanctions were, or even how many students were punished. According to the report, privacy laws prevent the university from identifying how many students were sanctioned because that “may unmask the identities of those students.”

Seriously? There were 3,000 students in attendance at that party. How could divulging a number — no names, mind you, just the number of students who were disciplined — possibly “unmask” them to the general public? Wouldn’t it make more of an impression on current and future students if they knew at least a little more about the consequences of violating the university’s code of conduct? And wouldn’t it help community relations if SLO residents knew Cal Poly responded with appropriate sanctions against the students responsible for this mess?

Instead, we get an investigative report that’s mostly a rehash of what was already known, along with some recommended actions — such as developing a calendar of student social events and sponsoring on-campus alternatives to house parties — that should have been taken long ago.

This unenlightening postmortem does little to instill confidence in Cal Poly’s ability to deal with massive gatherings, and for that, the university earns a late-to-the-party brickbat.

No drought for generosity

We’re serving up edible bouquets to all who participated in last Friday’s Hunger Awareness Day by volunteering and donating to the Food Bank Coalition.

The nonprofit agency, which distributes food to more than 40,000 county residents, has a goal of collecting $125,000 in this campaign. Approximately $115,000 has come in so far, but donations toward the goal are still being accepted.

We know there are many worthy causes in San Luis Obispo County, but we can think of few ways to make even a small donation go farther; just $1 provides $10 worth of food. Without the Food Bank Coalition, many families would not have enough on their tables. If you can spare a buck or two — or $10 or $20 — this is a great way to make it count.

You can give online at http://www.slofoodbank.org.

This land is our land

Thanks to Jan and Stu Bartleson’s generous gift of 450 acres of farmland to Cal Poly, ag students will have more opportunities than ever before to step outside the classroom and get their hands dirty — literally and figuratively — on a working ranch.

Located just outside Arroyo Grande, the Bartleson Ranch includes 104 acres of avocados and 131 acres of lemons. It’s is the largest land donation the university has ever received in San Luis Obispo County. The university, though, isn’t the only beneficiary. The ranch is a gift to all of us, really, since we all depend on a strong ag industry to keep food on our tables.

With that in mind, we offer the Bartlesons a bouquet of everlasting flowers — lemon scented, of course — for a gift that will serve California for many, many generations to come.

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