It was clear from the presence of the police officer standing watchfully by the check-in kiosk at Hampshire Dining Commons. It was visible in the lifeless eyes of the residential security guards, working for a long weekend to enforce the strict no-guest policy. It was audible as the blades of a helicopter chopped through a cloudless sky and as police sirens followed the songs of good-natured bagpipe players. It was evident as disappointed students stumbled out of the Mullins Center concerts early and drifted around campus like tumbleweeds.
Yes, it was certain: Blarney had died.
The Luck of the Irish evades the Class of 2019 at UMass Amherst. They will never know the legendary celebration or participate in such a marathon of a day-drink. But there’s more to mourn than all the epic snapchat stories that could have been. Many students were surprised to learn just how committed the university was to stopping what they might call The Blarney Blight: The Daily Collegian reported that UMass spent nearly $500,000.
This number got us thinking about all of the things UMass could have spent half a million dollars on, rather than searching for groups of drunk college students via helicopter.
1. UMass could spend the $500,000 used for Blarney to sponsor 1,388 children for a year through savethechildren.org
2. UMass could give out 91,074 free smoothies from Harvest to community members.
3. UMass could send 200 students to a TED Conference. #FunLearning!
4. UMass could pay a year’s salary for 929 anti-poaching rangers working to protect African elephants.
5. UMass could pay for each undergrad to enjoy 4.5 months of Spotify Premium.
6. UMass could pay for every student (and then some) to get a haircut at Bucci salon in the Campus Center. Including a 20% tip.
7. UMass could spot the first 20,000 students to lose their UCards this semester on the $25 fee.
8. UMass could give 200 student organizations on campus an extra $2,500 each for activities.
While we understand why UMass intends to disassociate St. Patrick’s Day with thousands of unreasonably intoxicated students, and applaud the university’s efforts to distract from the main event (Jason Derulo was fire!), we wonder how necessary it was to drop such a large sum on this effort. We’re not saying that $500,000 would be better spent improving the lives of 1,388 children in 2016… But we might be…