by Brianna Abbott ’17
Opinion Co-Editor Emerita
Twice a year since the 1990s, a sea of pastel golfers has pulsed through Eaton Street, devouring nine kegs at nine different houses in the name of Golf Party and Lilly Pulitzer. This year, however, students were crammed into two houses or stuck standing on the Smith Quad, separated by distance and gloomy weather.
Lilly Pulitzer is still the queen of campus, but her colors have been dulled. Soon, she may be dethroned. Last week, The Cowl ran its Friar Flashback on the infamous tradition, charting how Golf Party has evolved over the years. Golf Party, however, isn’t evolving; it’s dying. And there’s a lot of work that needs to be done if Providence College students want to maintain one of our most unique and anticipated traditions.
As it was stated in the Friar Flashback, Golf Party was established in the mid 1990s. Students would begin the “Tee-off” at one house, finish the keg there, and move on to the eight other houses in their best golfing attire. The “nine holes” were a vague, exciting rumor to me as a freshman, but they became completely non-existent by the time I became a senior; only the preppy clothes have remained. Even the enthusiasm for the day has waned, at least among the upperclassmen who remember its previous glory.
“Our first year it was a legitimate party, and the cops weren’t as involved,” said Haley Grant ’17. “They used to stand back and supervise, and now people actually get arrested.”
Indeed, the cops have been more actively infiltrating the gatherings and breaking them up rather than observing them, which can be attributed both to the views of the administration and the increased incidents of violence that have taken place at parties over the past four years, including the infamous couch burning on the night of the 2015 NCAA Hockey National Championship and the thrown vodka bottles after the Patriots 2017 Superbowl victory.
An email from Steven Sears, dean of students, to the student body earlier this semester highlights this point. “Large gatherings, while intended to be social and enjoyable, not only cause a nuisance to our neighbors, but also put people at risk.”
Although safety should always be everyone’s priority, a large portion of the houses off Eaton Street are lived in by students, and breaking up the backyard parties and forcing the students to roam the streets looking for a location is more of a public nuisance to any other neighbors than allowing them to stand in the backyard of a student house.
Furthermore, whether or not more incidents of violence are caused by students pushing back against increased police presence or if more police presence is due to the increased incidents of violence is difficult to determine. Violent incidents in which people are harmed, however, should never be tolerated, and students, administration, and police need to find a balance between allowing students to have fun while making sure everyone is safe.
Unfortunately, for many students, the alternative of Friar Fest simply isn’t going to cut it, and it certainly isn’t an equal replacement, no matter how many food trucks appear.
If students want to maintain the tradition of Golf Party, there needs to be cooperation on everyone’s part—and students should attempt to maintain that tradition. Since its inception, Golf Party is something that has made Providence College unique and has given the entire school a sense of unity. It gives the College character.
Other schools may laugh at our preppy clothing while we embrace it, but it is something done for the students by the students that would only happen at Providence, and there’s something to be said for that. Golf Party may never again be what it once was, but it should certainly be more than a few sad darties on a rainy day, attempting to remember a tradition that feels like a thing of the past.
Long Live the Lilly Pulitzer queen, just as long as none of her subjects get beheaded.