Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Talker: Students not that worried about “ZooMass” label

After recent crackdowns on partying, administration at the University of Massachusetts is trying to rid the school once and for all of the slang label “ZooMass.”

“ZooMass” is a term that refers to the party culture that was particularly present on campus in the early 2000s. As phrased it, students at the school “pregame harder than you party.”

In recent speeches to the Student Government Association (SGA), both Chancellor Robert Holub and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life Jean Kim have said they believe students should stop using the term “ZooMass.”

“We all have to work on UMass pride, not ‘ZooMass’ pride,” Holub said during his address to the SGA. “It is an unfortunate label from the past, and I think it should be banned on the campus.”

However, some students are not as sure that it should be banned or even that it is harmful to the school’s reputation.

“It’s not harmful,” said senior legal studies major Yu Lin. “I don’t think it is a big deal. Kids are raising the bar … the school is getting better despite the label,” he added referring to the higher GPAs of the incoming class.

Brendan McCarthy, a senior accounting major, echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s a stigma, but people realize it is still a good school,” McCarthy said. “You can get an education and still have a good time.”

Nevertheless, over his four years at UMass, McCarthy has noticed that the partying has gone down a bit.

“It has gotten slightly better, but only because GPAs and such are going up and those kinds of kids often aren’t the best partiers,” McCarthy said.

Statistically, the partying has decreased. In 2006, the Princeton Review ranked UMass as the seventh-biggest party school in the United States. However, by 2007, UMass did not even make the top 20 party schools and has stayed off the list ever since.

Despite the decrease in partying, the reputation lingers.

“The partying has been cut down a lot, but my friends from home still hear the title and think: party school,” said senior psychology major Carolyn Colon.

Colon has concerns that the title will negatively affect the school’s reputation and thinks getting rid of the term could be beneficial, but she does not worry that it will tarnish the value of her degree when she graduates.

“Employers will be open to hearing about the education I received here and the experiences I had,” Colon said. “But, people might not want to come here.”

Yet, freshman history major Amelia Murphy, an out-of-state student from New Hampshire had not even heard of “ZooMass” before she arrived on campus.

“I had never heard of it before,” said Murphy. “I think it is probably an in-state thing.”

Either way, Murphy does not think the term means anything.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected].


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  • E

    Ed CuttingOct 18, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Facts matter, damn it! FACTS MATTER!!!!

    The term “Zoo-Mass” dates from the 1970s (when the drinking age was 18, the Bluewall an out-of-control bar, and “there would be a trail of rolled-over cars back to Southwest”) and not a decade ago. This story is based on, at best, shoddy research and ought not even be accepted as an editorial.

    “ZooMass” was an out-of-control place where RDs routinely walked around drinking from open containers and kids tripping on LSD routinely went out of tower windows. Where today’s “mudbowl” tradition was born with beer kegs set up behind Baker and at the top of the Orchard Hill Bowl — so many kegs with so much beer spilt that they literally were “beer slides.” “ZooMass” was a place that didn’t even have a UMPD, they were campus security at the time and the Amherst Police did what little law enforcement was being done here on campus.

    Go rent the movie “Blow” — it is about a very real UMass student who started selling Cocaine on this campus and then in this country — and it is a true story.

    We had “Project 10” — an experimental college that was so out of control that it was known in Greenwich Village for having “the best drugs on the whole east coast, man.” I am told of kids literally overdosing on heroin IN CLASS. And as to sexual assault/rape — well I have been quietly told enough stories by women who were here in the 1970s to have a fairly good idea what life was like for the female student — think “Tailhook” writ campus-wide.

    In the “Early 2000’s”, then Vice-Chancellor Michael “Dunk” Gargano told me of a plan to rename all the dorms in Southwest because students were coming to campus with stories of what their parents had done as UMass students in the various buildings. Sources in Student Affairs quietly told me that the problem with notifying parents of student alcohol violations was that the parents were often responding “is that *all* he/she/it did?!? — Do you know what *I* did on that campus as a student?”

    The way it was put to me once by a person who was a “ZooMass” freshman in the Fall of 1980, when Jimmy Carter was still President and America still stuck in the 1970’s, was that people nonchalantly accepted drugged-out students jumping off the top of towers. Toilet paper was routinely tossed out the windows — go look at the old yearbooks. And I am told that there was a continuous roar from Southwest — 24/7 in a city that never slept — from move in day until graduation.

    0ne year a group of intrepid students literally constructed a wall — they walled off their end of a tower corridor, put in a door, locked it — and had their own private area. Can you imagine that being done today without anyone saying anything? And a housing administrator told me of how he got his office expanded — one weekend he came in with a sledgehammer and smashed down the wall between it and a vacant room in Berkshire — he threw all the debris out in the dumpster — and he had that office until he retired.

    That was “ZooMass” — a place where they literally had to fingerprint all the persons on the School of Education’s payroll because they had so many fictitious persons that they had no other way to know who existed and who didn’t. When the Dean (Dwight Allen) decided to fly all the faculty and grad students to a conference and simply told PanAm to bill the Provost for the airfare (which was expensive back then). Where they had so many “wine and cheese at midnight” doctoral defenses that all doctoral defenses are required to be both advertised and during university business hours — and alcohol free.

    From the top down, it was an out of control mess. A faculty committee (forget none being engineers, I am told that none had ever even worked in the trades) came up with the bright idea of moving the steam plant to the railroad siding (thinking that if coal came by rail, oil would too) and didn’t realize that piping steam 1.9 miles downhill was a truly terrible idea. (High-speed turbines do not like water droplets – they act like bullets and enough holes in a turbine fin will cause it to break loose which will kinda ruin your whole day.)

    An official state report states that they had to shut down Eastman Lane to prevent people from being burnt to death. The Tower Library, then 8 years old, was CONDEMNED as likely to collapse (not just the bricks falling off the face but the whole damn building going down) and other examples abound. I am told that building inspections were done “in a bar downtown in Amherst” with the state inspectors never even setting foot on campus.

    As bad as UMass is now, the place was totally out of control back then. Prior to 1989 or so, one could walk through the streets of Amherst with an open beer and most folks did — well into the 1990s the spring concert was outside by the pond and those of legal age could drink all they wanted — in plain sight of the cops. That was then, this is now…

    To call the not-quite-so-restrictive (but still quite Fascist) regime of Michael Gargano and John Lombardi the libertine “ZooMass” era is obtuse. And factually wrong — the Collegian can do far better than this, can’t it????

  • M

    MattOct 18, 2011 at 2:13 am

    1. ZooMass is stupid and so are the people who embrace the name.

    More important: why is there a picture of the Mullins Militia above the link to this story on the front page? The Militia are far from the ZooMass label. If you’re going to use a sports pic, put up hockey fans.