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Davis, California

Monday, May 27, 2024

Editorial: Picnic Day

An April 21 Sacramento Bee article titled “Weekend rowdiness may bring an end to UC Davis’ 96 year-old Picnic Day” sparked worry among many students and alumni that Picnic Day may end.

Gary Sandy, UC Davis director of government relations, said in the article, “All options are on the table.”

The article described a rise in arrests, incidents of public vomiting, fighting and littering.

However, 33 arrests is a relatively low number considering that 75,000 people attended Picnic Day. Many of those arrested were not even from Davis. For example, two individuals from El Cerrito allegedly attempted to fight an officer and were arrested.

Ending Picnic Day would mean ending a unique opportunity for the university to show off its accomplishments for the community. It is an important means of building goodwill and support for the university, especially at a time of such budget-related tension.

One of the biggest complaints is that alcohol is the major problem of this event. Letters have been sent to these establishments over the past years, encouraging them to not have drink specials on Picnic Day. Some have proposed limiting the sale of alcohol on Picnic Day. Although this solution is aimed at root of the problem, its impact will probably be minimal. Partygoers will drink regardless of location or when they buy their alcohol.

The fact is that Picnic Day is a celebration, and college students are bound to celebrate with alcohol. We are by no means encouraging under-age drinking or carrying open containers of alcohol.

Everyone involved recognizes that there are problems associated with Picnic Day. Most of those problems occur off-campus, however, and there are ways to deal with them without doing something as drastic as fundamentally altering a 96-year-old campus tradition.

The city of Davis and the campus community can team up for better clean-up efforts at future Picnic Days; either through student volunteers as demonstrated by the Greek community this year, or through a designated clean-up crew. Additionally, more police and more security will help maintain order and safety on Picnic Day.

Steps like these are a much better alternative than doing away with one of the events that makes UC Davis special.


  1. Monsieur Ogul –

    I believe what Monsieur Sikes is alluding to is the fact that this event has ramifications due to the poor behavior off campus. You cannot, in your right mind, argue against the statement that a majority of the miscreants are affiliated with UCD. Therefore the students of this university are actually not responsible enough to be given the privelege of having such an event where they can willfully binge drink and upset the families of this city. You would do well to thank the families that support the wonderful town of Davis who continually put up with your awful behaviour and who take the area of downtown Davis, and the surrounding neighborhoods, to be their adolescent playgrounds. Take off the spectacles of your “editorial board” and realize you must own up to the fact that if behaviour continues, Picnic Day alcohol festivities should be extremely, if not completely, curtailed. Good day to you sir.


  2. Aaron, as one of the members of the editorial board, I was one of the coauthors of this opinion. Our view is not that what happens downtown “should be allowed to continue unabated or unaddressed.” We state that law enforcement and security efforts need to be stepped up, as well as cleanup efforts. We don’t rule out the possibility of limiting alcohol sales. Our argument, however, is that the university should not alter or cancel such an important and special campus event just because people are acting irresponsibly off campus.

  3. What the author fails to recognize is that all of the downtown, off-campus ailments are a direct result of the event itself. There are not two Picnic Days, as I’ve heard intoned in the halls of the MU, where I work. There is just one event, and it comprises both the on-campus open house activities and the off-campus open house activities.

    On campus, you’ll be invited into department buildings to explore what the university has to offer. Off campus, you’ll be invited into apartment buildings to binge drink and, if you are female, likely be sexually assaulted or at least harassed.

    The author also wishes us to ignore the bad behavior downtown because it’s really just a bunch of out-of-towners coming around and making trouble. Why are these people here on this day and not any other, I’m forced to ask. Why do they show up in droves pushing 75,000-100,000? These aren’t all alumni. They’re people who have learned that Davis becomes New Orleans on the 3rd Saturday of April each year. We have our Mardi Gras, our annual bacchanal, and that’s where you go when you want to “celebrate.”

    What the author here is asking us to do is to view indulgence in hedonistic revelry as simply “celebrating.” Party goers will drink alcohol, but if an environment that encourages drinking at all hours of the day is created, is that still just a party? Or have we crossed the line into mayhem?

    I believe the answer to that question lies in the events and incidents that have taken place each year for as long as I can remember (and I’ve lived here for nearly 20 years). Picnic Day doesn’t need to be canceled, but the idea that what takes place downtown and in the surrounding community should be allowed to continue unabated or unaddressed is simply ludicrous.

    There is nothing of any value in what takes place off-campus on Picnic Day.


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