In the crosstown rivalry between UCSD and San Diego State University, one thing has always been seen as certain: SDSU is the town’s premier hard drinking party school, as attested to over many years by authorities including Playboy. But that easy assumption is now in question, based on word that UCSD’s annual Sun God Festival may be cancelled after this year by chancellor Pradeep Khosla because the giant annual campus party held each May has become a dangerously drunken debauch.
“Health and safety problems associated with Sun God have increased significantly in the last two years,” says a report of the Sun God Festival Task Force set up last year by Khosla, “with marked increases in students entering the on-campus detox center and being transported to area hospital emergency departments.” The report’s tally is grim: “In 2012 there were 21 recorded medical transports, both inside and outside the venue; in 2013 this increased by 129% for a total of 48 recorded medical transports.” In addition, “In 2012 there were a total of 95 arrests at Sun God; in 2013 this increased by 54% and a total of 146 were arrested at Sun God.” In short, Sun God has a problem.
This being the University of California, a specialist from out of state has been retained to make the final diagnosis and offer possible cures. “An internationally recognized expert on alcohol abuse among college students, Dr. Kim Fromme, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, is serving as the task force consultant. Dr. Fromme spent a full day on campus in late September, and is scheduled to return in February.”
Among Fromme’s ideas: don’t use “scare tactics” because “they do not work (e.g., crash scenes).” Instead, the university could “saturate” the campus with, among other things, “‘Perfect buzz’ info (if one drinks, how to drink to a buzz but not drunkenness).” The task force also suggested fighting booze with booze: “Consider [a] “Bear garden” (sic) event adjacent to the Sun God venue, where students over 21 years old could purchase beer during the event. We recognize this may be controversial, but students from the I-House/Village area gave feedback that they would consider not having parties at their residence if they knew they could drink somewhere else.”
If such permissiveness fails, says the task force, it may be time to call out the cops, as has the city’s other august institution of higher learning. “San Diego State University used to have significant issues related to overconsumption of alcohol on its campus. Over the past couple of years, they have focused on maximum enforcement of campus policies at the beginning of the year to let students know that policies will be enforced. This policy has led to a decrease in alcohol abuse and the health and safety risks associated with it. We recommend analyzing whether such a strategy would be effective here at UC San Diego.”