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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Mock party gets students thinking about real values

Fakery encourages students to see through sober eyes.

Dan Linehan, Mankato Free Press 10-19-2012

This fake house party aims to expose the routine — peer pressure to use drugs, risky sex and drinking until you pass out — as the obscene. A few dozen student actors spent their Thursday night mimicking a house party at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Outside, students pretended to urinate in a driveway, vomit in the street and get sobriety tests. Inside, students were getting fake- drunk slamming down root beer, pressur­ing each other to use drugs and having intoxicated sex without a condom.

Its goal is to get students talking about how their choices make them suffer.

“It lets you see what a real party looks like through sober eyes,” said Bill Tourville, who works in student activities at Minnesota State University.

The event is organized by several MSU groups, though mostly by Samantha Coffin, a graduate assistant in Student Health Services. This is the event’s 10th year.

The party was better publicized this year, in part to avoid a problem last year where neighbors called 911 to complain about the noise — providing a working definition of irony, incidentally.

“This party isn’t saying not to drink,” Coffin said.

Instead, the students are asked to apply some critical thinking and talk about what they see.

That discussion happens in a tent out back, where the participants are asked to “process” what they saw. While it’s probably asking too much to get into an in- depth discussion about weighty topics with strangers, the discussions “put that little thought in your head,” said Mandy Wubben, a residence hall director.

Sara Vagt, a member of the women’s center at MSU, said a goal is to “make the subjects less of a taboo.”

In other words, perhaps making it more normal to discuss sexual assault, for example, will lead a student to face it down where it happens instead of ignoring it. Crimes like these thrive in a culture of silence, the discussion moderators agree.

“If everyone feels the same way, it’s OK to step up,” said Abigail Bearfoot, also a member of the women’s center.

One of the more ambiguous situations happens upstairs, in a room suffused with the stench of burnt oregano from a drug skit next door. In this room, though, Jonathan Messer and Kayla Green are sitting under a blanket, her in a tank top and him in a brown suit vest.

Their scenario is a drunk make- out session followed by a scramble for a condom. They don’t have one, but agree to have sex anyway.

Green said she’s interested to hear what people say about the skit, which is more of a gray area because both man and woman are drunk.

“Who do you blame?” she said. After their skit, a girl in the hall titters: “I really hope they’re a couple.”

They are friends, and agree it’s not awkward.

“We’re all besties,” Green said.

Next door, the one with the burning oregano, there’s some serious peer pressure to use cocaine and marijuana. It’s not just shoulder bumps — some cruel stuff is being said.

Downstairs, a student is “passed out” and has people writing on him. Other students wonder aloud if they ought to call an ambulance.

Police Commander Matt DuRose said he’s curious to see if attendees believe that these things really happen. Not that he’s wondering.

“Everything that’s in there is realistic,” he said.

“If everyone feels the same way, it’s OK to step up.”  

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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