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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Backing off Block Party a wise decision

Since I’ve come to Madison it’s seemed to me that there was a concerted effort, whether conscious or subconscious, to reign in the school’s traditional character. I’m sure many of us who are Wisconsin residents have heard about Madison, or some sort of UW history, like I have. My mom and some relatives have either graduated from UW-Madison or at least attended it at some point in their lives. The infamous Mifflin Street Block Party, whether some people want it gone or not, is indistinguishable from the university’s public image, something that the majority of the community would agree on.

I would even be as so bold to say that the block party is actually a factor kids consider when applying to our university. When someone makes the choice to attend a university for four years of their life, you can absolutely bet that that individual partially makes their decision based on the overall scene it has to provide.

Lucky for us, UW has no shortage of interesting cultural history, for both staunch academics and the more social student. UW-Madison is a great community where everyone can get something out of the experience and I am extremely proud of that.

As an iconic event, the Mifflin Street Block Party is so prominent in the minds of so many who attend here, as well as those who have attended here in the past. I know it’s unfair to generalize my views for that of the entire student body, but I really can’t help but feel that Mifflin is ingrained into our own identities as UW students. Who hasn’t had friends over to partake in festivities in their time here, honestly?

Last year’s Mifflin, I’ll be the first to admit, was brazen in the amount of public debauchery, but to say that it was the “worst” Mifflin, in terms of crime, is just wrong. The two stabbings were indeed shocking, but when you consider the overall scale of the event, those incidents really pale in comparison to what you’d expect from such a raucous event. Some estimates place the crowd at well-over 10,000 people, and with almost all of those attendees inebriated. With that continued that state of mind all day, while being squeezed into a small area, you’d think that there would be more crime occurring than just two major incidents. I’m not trying to downplay the crimes that did occur because they were indeed disgusting acts.

While the local press might have had it easy making the generic “Mifflin goes bad” headlines, most students were ready for Mifflin 2012. That brings me to my overall point, which is the city of Madison is being smart by not shutting it down. The city already tried to do that in the past which resulted in student riots in the 1960’s. This isn’t a positive reflection of the university. It must have seemed fairly obvious to the city that they could possibly be dealing with another violent riot if they attempted to go after the event.

The party has gone on without major violence before and can do so again, with or without police cooperation. The police and other interests do serve an important role and I definitely am not against their presence at the event, since something is guaranteed to require police assistance. What should never be done though, this year including, is cracking down on the party to make it an example for students or some sort of self-righteous statement about the true values of a college education. When you’re in the prime of your life, some things have different values than others.

The city is smart to realize this and to not cause a larger problem than there inevitably would be if the event ceased to continue. I’m glad to see this tradition live on and I look forward to bright, sunny and refreshing Mifflin Street Block Party as we humans possibly live our last year of existence. See you there Madison!

Matthew Curry is a junior majoring in political science and environmental studies. Do you think that the Mifflin Street Block Party is an essential part to the UW identity? Please send all letters and feedback to

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