It’s not his party, but Bill O’Reilly is crying when he wants to.
On Monday, as part of his Fox News “O’Reilly Factor” show, O’Reilly aired video of a 750-person party at Brown University that ended with around 20 students being taken to the hospital. O’Reilly lambasted the shindig, calling the Brown administrators a bunch of “liberal pinheads” for allowing such behavior on campus.
O’Reilly called the “Sex Power God” party, an annual event sponsored by Brown’s Queer Alliance, a sign of the times on liberal campuses. Colleges “don’t care what these kids do,” he said on his radio show the day after the video aired on his television show. “You wanna’ have sex with 18 people? Go ahead.”
The attention to the party has generated a storm of reaction on campus, both over his assertions about the party -- that ecstasy was being used and that organizers used university funds -- and his invasion of students' privacy by filming the event. On Wednesday, the Undergraduate Council of Students passed "A Resolution Calling for Accurate Coverage of the Students of Brown University by The O'Reilly Factor and the Fox News Channel."
One of O’Reilly’s main points was that, while he doesn’t care what students do on their own time, administrators should not provide money and a building for a party that lands about 20 students in the hospital, and about a dozen more at the university’s health center. His assertion that “direct university funding” was used to throw the party, which sells $10 tickets and draws hordes of semi-nude and costumed partiers, was based on the fact that all Brown students are charged a $136 student activity fee, and that some student activity money is given to the Queer Alliance. “If I’m a kid up there paying $136…I’m a little teed off,” he said on the radio show.
Swathi Bojedla, chair of the Undergraduate Finance Board, said that the board gives the Queer Alliance $800, but that it is earmarked for specific purposes besides the annual party. She added that the only board money the alliance might have used for the party was $50 for photocopying, to make leaflets, but said an alliance leader told her the money was not used for the party. Sixty dollars from a generally available fund for student groups was used to rent a projector from Brown Media Services for the event.
Jesse Waters, the “O’Reilly Factor” producer who bought a ticket to “Sex Power God” online and attended – fully clothed and with a camera – reported seeing “girls falling down drunk, and most were wearing just panties and bras,” reads his account on the show’s Web site. “I went to the bathroom and heard guys having sex in the stall next to me. A record amount of people had to have emergency medical care."
O’Reilly said on his radio show that, in addition to drunken debauchery, “what they were doing was taking ecstasy … there were kids in trouble.” O’Reilly based the ecstasy claim on “observation from my people there,” he said, when asked on the air about it by Meryl Rothstein, an editor at The Brown Daily Herald who has been covering O’Reilly’s party coverage and was a guest on his show. “I wouldn’t say a lot of ecstasy, but it was around,” he added.
Richard Lapierre, director of Brown University Health Services, wrote in an e-mail that “We have no indications in any of our reports of ecstasy being used by any of our patients that evening. I suspect that Mr. O'Reilly may be going on instinct or his reporter may have witnessed ecstasy ingestion.” Lapierre added that Brown might not know if the hospitalized students used ecstasy because their records would be confidential.
Even before O’Reilly’s prodding, university officials recently became concerned about student safety at parties. The night before "Sex Power God," shots were fired -- not by a Brown student, campus officials said -- during an altercation after another party. On Sunday night, following the "Sex Power God" party, David A. Greene, vice president of campus life and student services at Brown, sent an e-mail message to all undergraduates. In it, he referenced both the shots and the hospitalizations from “alcohol and other substances,” and said that he is “directing the Offices of Student Life and Student Activities to work with the Department of Public Safety to review our policies for student organized social events.” Neither of the weekend parties were serving alcohol, but Greene noted “the culture of ‘pre-parties,’ which can lead to serious health consequences,” and Brown students acknowledged that many party-goers showed up to the door drunk.
An editorial in The Herald called for more watchfulness at party entrances, so that dangerously intoxicated students might be turned away.
Rothstein said that, obviously, “it would be better if people didn’t get sick” at parties, but said that many students feel like the O’Reilly has blown a fairly typical college bash out of proportion. “It’s a college campus, and it’s a party,” she said. “You could find an event like this at most schools.”
Based on his radio comments, O’Reilly disagrees. “It doesn’t happen at Bob Jones [University],” he said. O’Reilly made various other comments that burned the ears of Brown students, like mocking the position of Queer Alliance president as something that “would look good on your résumé, wouldn’t it?”
While O’Reilly said that the party was a “hallmark” of liberal, Ivy League institutions, he did say that the party would have been different at Harvard University, where he received a master's degree in public administration. If Harvard students threw an “orgy,” O’Reilly said, the prevailing attitude would be, “excuse me, I have to finish this book before I jump on the pile.”