Is it time to shut down annual UGA beach party on St. Simons?

The Florida-Georgia game is a legendary rivalry but the beach party on St. Simons Island that precedes the football contest is apparently a legendary nightmare.

A  story that appeared in the AJC last month noted:

The annual college football rivalry between the universities of Georgia and Florida is played traditionally on neutral ground in Jacksonville, but the social setting for the weekend’s associated parties is typically centered on St. Simons Island and in the Golden Isles. On the Friday before game day, hundreds of college students converge on St. Simons’ East Beach for a raucous party that transforms it into a litter-strewn stretch known as “Frat Beach.”

But Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering has vowed to crack down on illegal behavior surrounding this year’s game, which kicks off Oct. 31. Doering said he has committed a team of 60 officers to policing underage drinking, littering and foul behavior. Enforcement of the other activities will lead to questions about the age of the person, thus reinforcing the underage drinking patrols. Police also will conduct driving under the influence traffic checkpoints Friday and Saturday nights on the island, as well as use undercover officers and computers on scene to speed up processing for fines and arrests.

University of Georgia fans gather at St. Simons Island's East Beach on the eve of the 2004 football game against the University of Florida in Jacksonville. More than a decade later, the tradition is going strong, but officials are trying to clamp down on the rowdy atmosphere, including apparent underage drinking. SPECIAL TO AJC

UGA fans gathered at St. Simons Island’s East Beach on the eve of the 2004 football game against the University of Florida. More than a decade later, the tradition is going strong. (SPECIAL TO AJC)

The threat of a crackdown has led to concerns from University of Georgia students, some of whom consider Frat Beach a tradition.

However, a recent UGA grad who grew up on St. Simons disagrees with those who contend the Frat Beach tradition is worth celebrating and saving.

A 2015 UGA grad and now a journalist, Molly Golderman recently read a piece defending Frat Beach that riled her.

She wrote a response that I am sharing here:

By Molly Golderman

Earlier this year, my home county released a letter to the universities and colleges in Georgia explaining Glynn County will no longer tolerate the absurdities taking place over GA/FL weekend.

A UGA student writing for the Odyssey at UGA makes a plea to “Save Frat Beach.” In the essay, the student writes, “Frat Beach is something which unites the student body of UGA in the spirit of tradition and college fun.”

The student body, wow, that’s quite a lot of people. What about the students who call St. Simons home and are upset by the ecological harm done that weekend? What about the students who don’t have cars or can’t afford to drive five hours outside of Athens and load up on alcohol and binge on a hotel room?

Yes, there are traditions, but what does a tradition promoting underage drinking and utter disregard for the community reflect?

Do you call writing your name and phone number and who you “belong to’’ in ink on your arm in the event that you black out a tradition worth preserving?

As a freshman at UGA, I grabbed a ride home with a classmate from Athens who wanted to go to “Frat Beach.” I came by the beach Friday to see what all the hoopla was about. I did not encounter one coherent person. People I knew had no idea who I was and could barely stand up.

While defenses of “Frat Beach” contend there are only “a handful of disrespectful, out-of-line students,” the facts contradict that assertion. That “handful” does so much damage that the St. Simons community has to band together and take time out of their workdays to clean up all the garbage.

As the Brunswick News reported: “According to statistics from Keep Brunswick-Golden Isles Beautiful, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division and the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service, in 2013 Glynn County collected more than 21,000 pounds of litter from the beaches, parks and parking lots over the three-day Georgia-Florida Weekend. If the 8,000 attendance estimate is correct, that equates to more than 2.6 lbs. of trash per person.”

Defenders of Frat Beach contend the students bring revenue to the island, which such statements as, “The large inflow of college students who need to supply themselves with shelter and food for the weekend also brings likely a great amount of revenue to the businesses in St. Simons and the surrounding area that they wouldn’t normally receive in the off-season of October. Forcibly diminishing the size of frat beach would in turn greatly reduce the profit that the hundreds of restaurants, hotels, renters and other businesses have gotten used to making every Halloween weekend. ”

October is not necessarily off-season. It’s a beautiful time of year with hiking, kayaking, biking, fishing, hunting, flying airplanes and riding horses. Believe it or not, there are other people besides drunken UGA students who enjoy taking weekend trips to the beach in October. It is, after all, a resort and retirement destination. They don’t call it the Golden Isles for nothing. And we all know how many people are packed into a hotel room that’s only supposed to sleep two people.”

By the way, the beach has a real name, you know. It’s called East Beach.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

100 comments
CSpinks
CSpinks

Enoch19, the decision is theirs but the problem of "children's behaving badly" is not unique to St. Simon's.


Read Tom Wolfe.

Enoch19
Enoch19

Why is this relevant for people who don't actually live on St. Simons. Isn't this their decision.


BTW our president has firmly institutionalized the idea that the executive branch may enforce whichever laws it chooses to when it chooses to do so. No problem with fairness at all.  It's just an extension of discretion. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I wish to recommend the following movie to the readers of this blog.  It is just out so that it has not come to Atlanta yet but I saw clips from it when Richard Gere was promoting his movie on "Charlie Rose." I look forward to seeing it when it arrives here.  The name of the movie is "Time Out of Mind."


Here is a review from the New York Daily News.  Ben Vereen co-stars.  Gere had said on the Charlie Rose Show that we will have to choose on this planet whether we are all one, or not.  He shows us one of the colors of life in this movie.  Never again will we walk by a homeless person without looking at him/her in the eye, and hopefully with compassion, and with full acknowledgement of the humanity we share.


http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/time-mind-review-richard-gere-ben-vereen-class-article-1.2352427

popcornular
popcornular

@MaryElizabethSings

You recommend a movie based on watching clips? So easily impressed/swayed. Must be the educator in you. P.T. Barnum was right. 

CSpinks
CSpinks

What happened to the beach party thread?


Friday, the annual Border Bash which has immediately preceded the UGA-USC game for several years was held in Augusta in the abandoned Georgia Golf and Gardens site adjacent to the Savannah River. Aside from a few fights, things went well. Of course, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office doesn't play. Have the St. Simon's Police Department and the Glynn County Sheriff's Office played with "revelers" during their past beach visits?

popcornular
popcornular

Any progress on the plans to eliminate the middle man and make APS a prison charter also? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

I think it is also time for the Feds to require all schools to furnish all students with the latest Nike shoes - and then require the States to pay for them. Well , we will just have to lay off some teachers to do that.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I have no problem with the police enforcing the laws- as long as they do it fairly and consistently. That means arresting the local matriarch who drank too much at the cotillion and tried to drive home.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I think they should enforce the 18 year old drinking age - right after they start enforcing speed limits ITP.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I am sure they have laws on the books they don't enforce. Like the southern Alabama speed trap towns that ticket college students coming back from spring break for doing 30 in a 25 mph zone, but let the local kids do 50 in the same area.

class80olddog
class80olddog

They could put up a sign that says "no Irish, Mexicans, blacks, or Georgia fans allowed"

anothercomment
anothercomment

When I had condos in PCB for rent I spoke to every renter on the phone for a significant amount of time to ferret out who was renting. First criteria was could you correctly speak the English language ( European or British accents were acceptable). Then I took credit cards over the phone, not gift cards or purchase at the drug store load cards, what is the mailing zip code. I knew the zip codes for all the right suburbs and ends of Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Indy, Michigan, New Orleans, etc.. My condos were decorated like 5 star hotel rooms, I was only renting to 5 star clients! My units would sit empty otherwise. During College spring break I kept my winter Snowbirds from Michigan and Ontario who paid 1.200 per month rather than even risk putting in college students for $2,000 a week. absolutely not worth it! The destruction that college students could do to $50-100,000 in furnishings and a $500,000 plus property is simply not worth the risk of making $2,000.

I have been on a condo board at the beach and seen the damage and heard the owners crying about the damage of the renters either they poorly screened themselves or Resert quest through one of the on-line booking companies let in. Then they complained when the HOA kicked out their renter in violation of the no under 25 renter policy that was in the Recorded HOA documents on file with BAY County. What they did not read those documents when they bought their unit. Sorry about that! You accepted those terms at closing along with 3 day minimum rental.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@anothercomment Fascinating. You should write a book.
You could title it, "Put This Under The Leg Of A Wobbling Table".

hssped
hssped

I don't think alcohol should be allowed on any public beaches anywhere.   Nothing makes me grimace more than seeing idiots standing in the waves sucking on a bottle of beer.  Watch out for that rip tide.....numbnuts. 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

A) Have a fee to get to the beach.  Prove to the county that all these people actually supply revenue to the county. 

This fee will cover: 

The thousand extra trash cans for people to put their litter. 

The thousand extra staff to maintain those trash cans. 

The vehicles to move the trash from the trash cans to the dump. 


It sounds like a typical youth party at someone else's house.  You come in, drink until a stupor, then leave the next day without caring who takes care of the place. 

If you want to keep partying there, at least contribute to keeping it clean, people. 

Can ya do that? Can ya? 


RichardKPE
RichardKPE

"I'm PC Georgia Bra!!!" (Did anyone else watch South Park last night?)  "How dare you call it 'frat beach'?!  It's gender-neutral-student-that-chose-to-be-a-member-of-a-social-organization-with-a-name-that-references-an-extinct-society-beach!"  

BCW1
BCW1

Let them have fun, I was not proud of my past, but I matured and I pay my bills and act like somebody now. We have become so micromanaged today that it is ridiculous. It all comes down to personal responsibility but yet again, someone has come out with a policy...mind your own business!!!

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@BCW1


Yep, personal responsibility.  If they were having fun, then cleaning up their own mess, it wouldn't be an issue.

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

I'm all for having fun on the beach, but if they're trashing the place, fine the snot out of them.


Provide enough police presence and they'll go somewhere else on their own anyway.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Yeah right....Its funny to watch these guy's like Doering passing proposals restricting behavior he himself participated in back in his day.  Good luck with that.  Ask owners of surrounding businesses.

Derwin0
Derwin0

They're ADULTS, let them have fun.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

Let me start by saying crack down on the underage drinking and littering. Both are against the law, and the fines can likely pay for the cleanup efforts.


That said, this child's assumption that no revenue would be lost if no one stayed in St. Simon's the weekend of that game is absurd. Look at the revenue generated by "kayaking and fishing" visitors the week before and the week after the game, and get back to me on that ridiculous statement.

Her letter is among the most condescending, brow furrowing bit of stick in the mud, holier than thou snobbery I've ever seen from an 18 to 22 year-old that is supposed to be in the middle of the time of her life. This kid has larger problems than beer bottles on her beach.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

If the police have been turning a blind eye to this for years, shame on them!  Enforce the law, whether it is for Freaknik or the Georgia-Florida pre-game festivities!

Bursaw
Bursaw

Why not? The picture the AJC used is from 1994.

Lexi3
Lexi3

Say, here's an idea: let's let the good voters of SSI decide. They can't bar adults from traveling to their island paradise, though, I suppose they could pressure the rental establishments to refrain from renting to those under a certain age. And, they can certainly control the flow of college students by adjusting the level of welcome they show for acts of rowdiness and illegal drinking. In its worst minute the tradition was not half as bad as Freaknic, and that was throttled.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Honestly, they're doing everything their parents (and even grandparents) did. Yet more obnoxiously.

Problem appears to be higher percentage of binge drinking and less respect for laws and property today.

Bad behavior glorified on social media, television, and movies. Everyone looks as if they're trying to outdo others bad behavior. More in the open and in your face mentality.

No understanding of shame.

Durty-Burd_Phan!
Durty-Burd_Phan!

So to prove a point, you display a photograph from 2004?

class80olddog
class80olddog

I think we should close Panama City Beach to college students and make Spring Break illegal!  On second thought, maybe we ought to make it illegal for anyone over 25 to be at Panama City Beach during spring break!  Or maybe we could just handle the issues as they come up.

class80olddog
class80olddog

So are they going to fine EVERYONE who takes alcohol to the beach? Or just discriminate against the kids?

class80olddog
class80olddog

So I guess I should not go there and take my one beer to the beach!

GT_Grad!
GT_Grad!

@class80olddog  It is illegal to drink alcohol on the beach at PCB. Unfortunately, losers who can't drink responsibly ruined it for everyone.

dawg fan
dawg fan

This is very simple.  The partiers should be expected to follow the law and I would fully support police efforts to enforce the law.  That means no underage drinking, DUI, littering or other debauchery.  Outside of that however, they should be free to do whatever they want to do.  If they want to get blackout drunk and act like a total arsehat that's none of your business.  Stay away if you don't want to see that type of behavior.  I've been to these sorts of gatherings and they are never as wild and out of control as people like Ms. Golderman suggest anyway.  I would even go so far as to say that I detect a little jealousy in her take on the whole situation.  What about the people who can't afford to drive 5 hours to enjoy Frat Beach?  Well, what about them?  Welcome to the real world Ms. Golderman.  Everyone else is supposed to stay at home because other people can't go?  Guess what, other people can't write as well as you so maybe you should stop writing or you might hurt their feelings.  Good grief. 


class80olddog
class80olddog

@dawg fan In some ways, I wish they WOULD enforce the 18-year-old drinking age for 100% compliance.  I bet you would hear a howl like you heard with the "national" 55-mph speed limit.

The Feds (because of the Tenth Amendment) cannot make a law about the drinking age, but they can use their carrot and stick approach to make it all but mandatory - you play our game or we take all the money your state citizens have paid into the Federal Government and go home.  It is exactly the same with IDEA. They create the laws but then don't adequately fund them - leaving the States and local communities holding the bag.

Astropig
Astropig

@dawg fan


"  If they want to get blackout drunk and act like a total arsehat that's none of your business."


I want to explore that a bit. I own a couple of vacation properties (Florida,Georgia). The anonymity of booking online has made it my business to make sure that I am not renting my property to an underage person that will use it to violate the law. I take lots of extra precautions around prom season and graduation weeks to make sure that I'm not enabling some tragedy like the one that happened up in a gated community cabin a couple of years ago (case still pending). If you are the property owner where such events occur,you have to make doubly sure that you act responsibly, if for no other reason,you have to live with your conscience.


I do think you made a good point in your first sentence,but I would say that when it comes to young,irresponsible people,we have to keep alert to stupidity.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@dawg fan


"...they should be free to do whatever they want to do.  If they want to get blackout drunk and act like a total arsehat that's none of your business.  Stay away if you don't want to see that type of behavior."


A grossly dysfunctional, egocentric response to misconduct that is occurring in a public place.


At least we have a clear view of the mindset behind this problem. 

Go Dawgs!  Seriously, I don't care where - just go.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

I went there as a UGA student way back in 1985/87 range every year for the GA FLA game...we had a great time but we respected the local community...sounds like sour grapes to me

StayingtheCourse
StayingtheCourse

it is NOT just UGA Students ... Student from all over the Eastern United States come to SSI for this week/weekend ... UGA have the most kids but looking at the folks around ... it is a Fall Break for many Universities ...

More "Bubble wrap" parenting ...

GT_Grad!
GT_Grad!

@StayingtheCourse  I disagree about "bubble wrap" parenting. I did more than my fair share of drinking in the 90s at GT and UF.  If you have half a brain, you learn to drink in private residences (frat houses, etc) to stay out of trouble and you don't drive. If you choose to go to the beach at SSI knowing that it is a public place, then deal with the consequences - that's how you learn lessons.  I can't tell you how many people I know that had to get DUIs or get arrested before they learned to not act like complete drunken idiots in places where you can get arrested.  I had plenty of fun but thankfully never had to learn the hard way to control my behavior in public.  It will benefit many of these kids in the long run to face actual consequences for acting like drunken fools in public.

class80olddog
class80olddog

1980 - drinking age 18 - very little binge drinking

2015 - drinking age 21 - lots of binge drinking

Coincidence?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@class80olddog @Astropig People Binge drink because of its limited access and society's role in making alcohol "bad". 

There is public shame in drinking underage, and you can be punished. 

So, you don't drink so much. When you do, you can't control the amount because you don't have the experience. This leads to over-indulgence. 


If Alcohol was not so limited, not so shamed, then people could learn to drink while growing up.  Parents can moderate how much is consumed to allow their children to learn how drinking affects them. By the late teens, regularly imbibed alcohol leads to it being normal, so hiding it during binge periods is not necessary. 


But our puritan republic can't seem to learn this simple process.