I’ve recently had a classic freshman experience. I learned about what is apparently the most sacrosanct tradition among Binghamton University students: Parade Day. Here I thought that I had mastered all there was to know about our wonderful institution. I’ve come to know my way around the labyrinth that is the Engineering Building. I even discovered that it is, in fact, possible to get from the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library to the third without having to use the elevator.

I finally felt at home in Binghamton, confident that next year it would be me showing clueless freshmen the ropes. Then I found out about Parade Day.

I was excited that there were still new things about Binghamton I’d yet to discover. Learning about Parade Day brought back some of the charm of being a freshman: embracing newfound independence with so much to uncover.

I began to do some research to figure out what all this Parade Day business was about. The more I looked into it, though, the more troubled I became. At first, Parade Day seemed like a wonderful event. I learned that the parade was in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I have no qualms with that. I fully support the celebration of Ireland and its traditions. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in college up to this point is how enriching cross-cultural communication and experiences can be.

But, sadly, it seemed that Parade Day had a darker side. I began to hear widespread stories of all-day binge drinking. I was assured by many that drinking began at the crack of dawn and lasted through the night, or at least as long as you could handle it.

Many upperclassmen shared with me their well-thought-out strategies they had concocted and perfected over the years. It seems the key is to plan an afternoon siesta of sorts, ideally around dinner time, ensuring stamina and endurance to continue the partying all night.

It became clear that this was not your ordinary celebration.

I grew up in Manhattan so I’ve seen my fair share of parades. Some of my fondest memories consist watching the floats and marching bands make their way down Fifth Avenue. I racked my memory bank and could find nothing like the customs of BU students on Parade Day.

What I was hearing sounded like something completely different and out of balance.

Now don’t get me wrong. I hate to sound like some bitter old man ordering an ascetic lifestyle for us all. Having a drink here and there, a few shots with friends, that’s integral to the college experience. But I see a big gap between chilling out with some buddies while having a few drinks, and a coordinated, community-wide marathon of overindulgence and drunken revelry.

In many ways, the behavior on Parade Day is entirely unbecoming of our University. For students to stain what stature we have through massive debauchery is quite unfortunate.

More so, I think it’s a bit more than disrespectful to the Irish culture and tradition. When exactly did St. Patrick’s Day, originally a religious holiday, become synonymous with getting plastered and mindless revelry?

Lastly, we should consider our place in the greater Binghamton community. Many times we forget that we are not the only ones occupying this frozen territory. I’m sure many citizens of the city and region, including the elderly and young, turned out to partake in the festivities. For the patrons of the parade not interested in getting hammered all day, I can only imagine how this casts the University in the finest light possible.

I’ve come away with a gloomy feeling about the way our campus community embraces Parade Day. Sadly, I think this is the first time I’ve been genuinely disappointed with the University that I’ve come to call home.