Just as I received an achievement-laden alumni email update from Boston College, I also happened to be reading this article about the near unbelievably daft behavior of six BC seniors. The story begins unsurprisingly, on March 16, the night before Saint Patrick’s Day, arguably the holiday most infamous for inebriated amateur behavior, likely tied with New Year’s Eve. The six students, an actual Rockefeller among them, broke into a Gerald Road apartment, at approximately 11:30 p.m., and proceeded to vandalize the property, causing $25,000 in damage to the building. A quote from the Suffolk County DA’s Office sums it up best:
"Once inside, the group punched holes in the walls, urinated throughout the apartment, and threw eggs, milk, and other food, prosecutors said … After vandalizing the first floor apartment, prosecutors said, the men turned their attention to the clothes dryer in the basement. A gas line was ripped from the machine, which was situated near a furnace. Prosecutors said the group fled the scene, failing to provide any warning to the resident who continued to sleep as the building filled with gas."
The six “students” — Arthur Pidoriano, of Cortlandt Manor, NY, Charles Howe and Christian Rockefeller, both of Pleasantville, NY, Timothy Orr of Briarcliff Manor, NY, Matthew Tolkowsky of Morristown, NJ and David Rogers, of Providence — were charged with “breaking and entering … and willful and malicious destruction of property over $250.”
Most college kids graduate with a few, “So I was like, completely wasted and…” stories. These tales become conversation fodder for parties with an expiration date of about five years after graduation until anyone left rehashing their “glory days” starts to sound a little pathetic. Most of these stories represent harmless pranks at best, severely compromised decision-making at worst.
Largely, the transgressions of our extended adolescence are forgiven, and especially at top tier universities, a protective bubble of sorts exists between students and the “real world.” For the most part I think this serves a purpose where underage drinking or the odd experimentation with illicit drugs are concerned; this should not be found on anyone’s record when they apply for a job ten years later. But, where do we draw this line? Where should the protective bubble cease to apply? Additionally, why are we raising some relatively bright students with “the civility of preschoolers” according to one commenter, and according to another, the “life-skills and self-discipline of an Irish setter on crack” (a comment arguably unfair to crack and Irish setters).
In this particular case, the students are actually being dealt with by the justice system, whereas in many cases, minor (and sometimes major) offenses by college students are swept under the Ivy League rug. But the actions beg the question, what are we teaching those students who are to be our future leaders about their level of personal responsibility? Is this behavior, the beginnings (or middle) of the lesson: "upper crust" crime (i.e., white collar and financial crime) has no victims, and ultimately impunity is for sale? Reportedly, several of these boys have had internships with (and likely subsequent job offers from) large financial institutions; this, ladies and gentlemen, could be the next generation of Wall-Streeters. Be careful where you put your money.