Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Elephant on Campus

The elephant at the College of William and Mary
This post is about political correctness, about how it it confines its adherents and blinds them to reality. Eventually it erodes the integrity of those caught in its net.

The plague of political correctness is endemic in colleges and universities. The further up the academic food chain you go, the more the atmosphere is pervaded with cant and orthodoxy. Larry Summers, the now-former president of Harvard, is merely the most public example of an ex-communicant so offensive that no matter how much he apologized or how many re-education camps he instituted, his status as unshriven sinner could not be changed. His very being now inhabited a space beyond the pale.

In today’s academe there are many such unforgivable trespasses beyond Mr. Summer’s mortal sin of suggesting possible gender differences in spheres of learning. These transgressions most often occur along gender or racial lines, but they can be widened to cover any designated victim group. They are drawn in lines of black and white; there are no shades of grey and no ambiguity.

The theory and practice of victimology is now so widespread that it has become a lucrative career for its practitioners, “expert” consultants called in to “educate” the ignorant about the various kinds of harassment and misconduct of which they are either guilty or inherently inclined toward, or have been held captive by. The first time I saw that term – “victimology” – in reference to an academic paper, the bells began to toll for me: this was a perverse and dangerous mindset. It was then that I knew I was destined to stay as far away from the ivy halls and towers as possible.

Today’s universities are warrens of infighting and guild-thinking. Imitating the work ethic of, say, France or Germany, once tenured you may do as you wish. Ward Churchill is merely the currently most infamous of these charlatans. He could not exist in his present state in the real world, and make no mistake: academia, from kindergarten through graduate school is not the real world. It is France, only worse: tenured positions mean high salaries, job security, long vacations, sabbaticals, lucrative “consulting” work, and eager indentured servants in the form of graduate students acting as teaching assistants — all of which guarantee that the soft, cushioned existence of academic mandarins is far removed from anything resembling real life.

One of the tenets of correct academic thinking is that education is supposed to change some entrenched behavior or characterological predilections. Instead of providing intellectual knowledge and stimulation, it is the job of the academy to form a particular kind of thinking. Diversity exists in appearances – race and gender – but not in philosophy or varieties of critical thinking. There are victims and there are perpetrators, there are good guys and there are bad guys. The lines are clear.

In a politically correct environment there are many areas of non-free speech. In fact, the more a group of people extols a particular virtue, the more you can intuit the black holes of “what may not be spoken.” And one of the most troublesome no-go areas in college administrations (at least for public consumption) is the rate of alcoholism, of alcohol bingeing, and of groups of young people drowning in their own inebriation.

This does not mean being drunk cannot be mentioned; it means it cannot be aggressively addressed and stopped because its seriousness is too fearful to the administrators trying to attract money and support.

However, one has only to look around at the things you may not do as a college student that are permitted as a normal citizen to know that schools have the power to stop behavior that threatens them in some way. For example, dissident political voices have been most effectively squelched. Talk to a few college students and you find out they sing whatever the choir is singing and simply wait until they are away from school to freely speak their own minds. As they’ll tell you, speaking out is a good way to damage your grades and your academic future.

I know one group of students who have chosen to room together because they are all conservatives of some sort – though most of them would balk at such a designation. They want one small island in a Leftist Kingdom where they may speak freely without having a spittle-drenched “Bushitler” tirade directed at them.

As undergraduate life has become increasingly soaked in alcohol and students have become subject to the problems associated with frequent and severe inebriation, colleges have increased their emphasis on education – but not on education about the physical, legal, moral, or spiritual aspects of chronic or intermittent drunkenness. Instead, colleges narrowly focus on the after-effects. This makes it look as though they are doing something without actually accomplishing anything except spending more money on special “experts” they truck in to address “issues.”

As anyone who has experienced or witnessed the effects of inebriation can testify, the main symptom appears to be disinhibition. Apparently this is due to alcohol’s effect on the frontal lobe of the brain (a part of the brain that is undergoing rapid change during adolescence and early adulthood — thus the hard-wired tendency to impulsive behavior in this age group is exacerbated by alcohol).

Studies have shown that these effects are much more deleterious to women than to men. This is just another gender difference that can’t be mentioned within academia’s confines. Because of the differences between the way men and women metabolize alcohol, women, on average, get drunk – by the legal definition of inebriation – more quickly than men and on smaller amounts of alcohol. They also suffer more damage to their liver and other organs from frequent and chronic over-indulgence than do men (yes, it’s not fair but this a reality-based discussion). The current recommendation for adult women is that they limit alcohol consumption to several glasses of wine or ounces of spirits over the course of a week, in order to avoid organ damage.

One of the biggest failures of colleges is their inability to change or even openly address undergraduate behavior when it comes to alcohol consumption. As a result, they have students dying of alcohol toxicity, or sexual encounters which end either in character destruction, intense shame, or cries of rape, just to mention the most extreme examples. And this is aside from the property damage, lost productivity of students, and the drop-out rate due to substance abuse. One could also wonder if the suicide rate in colleges is at all connected to alcohol. How many kids go out of windows while drunk?

Which brings me finally to an actual incident which will serve as an example. As told to me by several students at the College of William and Mary, and adding what I was able to glean from the news media, this is what happened:

Beginning one evening last October, an evening which included long hours of drinking, several lives began a steep descent from which they will be years recovering… if ever. What happened is important, but what transpired after that night is even more important. The stance of the administrators of the College, the actions they took, the words they printed and said, are much more significant — and much more irresponsible than anything which occurred that night. If you have a child in college, this story ought to worry you. If you have a child at the College of William and Mary, it ought to alarm you mightily.

There are links to the newspaper accounts at the bottom of this post. These are the bare outlines. The students I talked to gave their versions of what they “think” happened. More importantly, I have their opinions of the administration’s response. The students have lost faith in the integrity of personnel at the school that they formerly admired. They had a ringside seat to what they perceived as CYA behavior all the way down the line. When I asked them if they were still happy they had chosen William and Mary, there was reluctant assent. “After all, how can you go back on a decision you made a couple of years ago when you thought this was a good place?” said one student. Another is deeply angry but doesn’t want the cost that would be involved in switching schools. Another wants to avoid girls at all costs. He thinks they aren’t trustworthy, based on this incident.

Last October 28th, a member of the College’s Board of Visitors hosted a party at his home for a sorority to which his daughter belonged. The drunken behavior of the guests was so out of control – girls were vomiting, glasses were broken, and some sorority members were unable to speak coherently – that after an hour the host shut down the party and sent the students back to the campus by bus. No, they didn’t get falling down drunk in an hour. In the research for this post, I learned a new term: “pre-gaming.” That means having a lot of booze before an event. This is a new term for old alcoholic behavior: one gets drunk before going out. Thus, these students “pre-gamed” the party and arrived having already consumed a large quantity of alcohol.

On October 30th, a senior at the College was charged with rape and arrested. He was accused of having raped one of the girls while they were at the party. He remained in jail until November 2nd, when he was released on $25,000.00 bond. Two months later, on January 4th, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Charles City County (the legal jurisdiction of the above-mentioned party and the scene of the alleged crime) dropped the charges against the senior for lack of evidence. This man immediately filed a defamation suit for five million dollars against his accuser.

Meanwhile, however, he was tried in absentia at the College’s judicial proceedings, found guilty of sexual misconduct by the school, and forced to leave a semester before his graduation. He will be allowed to apply for re-admission after his accuser graduates in 2007.

What is even more bizarre is that a second student accused of rape by the same girl, though not charged by the Commonwealth’s Attorney with any crime, was also processed by the judicial branch of the College. He was cleared of charges by the College judicial system – but then he didn’t have state criminal proceedings to face so he was not at risk in appearing at the College to defend himself.

It gets crazier still: a third man stepped up to say that he had had a sexual liaison with the accuser after her alleged rape by the accused. This man was neither accused nor had charges brought against him, though the sorority sisters of this woman, the accuser, say she was definitely intoxicated when this particular act of sexual congress transpired. Sexual intercourse with an intoxicated woman is sufficient grounds to file charges of rape in Virginia. However, none were filed by either the college or the Commonwealth based on the man’s story or the sorority sisters’ claims that she was very drunk at the time of this third encounter that evening in October.

And it gets even worse. Remember that the accused had been jailed on October 29th and was not released on bond until November 4th. On November 2nd, when this senior was arraigned in court and remanded to jail until he could be bonded out, the Vice President of Student Affairs sent out an email to the whole College community, naming the accused student. Students, faculty, and staff were informed of the charges. The student’s name became instantly infamous across the campus.

Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 20:58:24 -0500
From: “Sam Sadler” wssadl@wm.edu
Subject: [students] A Message to the Community
To: students, faculty, staff

I regret to inform you that a William and Mary senior, [name redacted], was charged with rape on October 30, 2005, and arraigned today in Charles City County Court. Because the alleged incident occurred in Charles City County, it is under investigation by the Charles City County Sheriff’s Department. The victim was another student at the college.

On such an occasion, our first thoughts are for the alleged victim. As you would expect, we are doing all that we can to ensure that her immediate needs are being met and that she is given proper support.

It is important for everyone to remember that [name redacted] has only been charged with this crime. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

This is an occasion of extraordinary sadness for everyone involved. It is also a time of sadness for our entire community because I sincerely believe that what happens to one of us at William and Mary does affect us all.

Sam Sadler

That was his first email. On February 23, he sent a densely worded, three page email – this time only to the students – attempting to explain his behavior in having sent the first email, and trying (though in my estimate, sadly failing) to explain why the College could find a student guilty even when the Commonwealth had withdrawn their charges. The email is far too long to put in this post, but there is a link to it below.

A libertarian campus paper, The Remnant, invited Dr. Sadler to attend a forum on the issues raised by this affair:

The Remnant welcomes Mr. Sadler to defend the judicial system in a public forum. We have scheduled such a forum for March 20. Mr. Sadler, if you think this system is so fair, please come out from the cloak of school-wide emails you hide behind. Defend your position. We also embrace the opportunity to engage every administrator and student involved in the judicial process to do likewise. The students need answers to these questions, Mr. Sadler, and the College needs to answer to what it has done.

The Remnant’s request for Dr. Sadler’s presence is reasonable. At no time has the College dealt openly with the severe problem underlying everything: the whole mess was fueled and driven by alcohol, copious and extreme amounts of it.

Do you know what their focus is instead? You guessed it: rape. Rape is a big problem at the College of William and Mary. There have been four reported rapes this year at the college – in all four cases the parties already knew one another. I’d bet next month’s grocery money that in each case lots of alcohol consumption preceded these incidents. There was also one real sexual assault: the apartment of a student who lived off-campus was broken into and she was raped by a man wielding a knife. That was, without any doubt at all, a horrible crime.

But those other four “rapes”? Sorry, folks, but what we have here is not a sexual assault problem. We do have a stuck-on-stupid deliberate blindness to the real problem.

And why is that, you say? Because the College reacted to the consequences of drunk and disorderly behavior by choosing victims to defend instead of holding all parties responsible for their licentiousness. No matter how you cut it, sex with three men in one evening is evidence of a deeply troubled woman. If she was intoxicated, as some claim, then she needs help with alcohol counseling or AA. If she was sober, she needs intensive therapy to address behavior that is either deeply compulsive or extraordinarily impulsive. We can see the behavior in someone so young and be alarmed for her safety and judgment. Once outside the realm of college life, she could be in mortal danger.

Let me give you an example: remember the recent case of the graduate student in New York City who was brutally raped and murdered? This is a terrible tragedy; a life cut short and a family left to mourn a young woman who had so much to live for. But this woman did two dangerous things: she got very drunk and she “closed the bar”, that is she stayed beyond closing time rather than have the bartender call a cab well before closing so she could leave safely. Impaired judgment means poor decisions. We cannot know if this young woman was accustomed to getting drunk while an undergraduate, but if she was she probably did so in a fairly safe environment. New York City bars at closing time are not safe places for a single woman who has had enough alcohol to impair her judgment.

Note: THIS IS NOT BLAME. She did not in any way “deserve” what happened to her. This is reality. Don’t go swimming without a buddy, and don’t go drinking without several of them. Especially if you are female and in a large city.

But the College is not preparing its young women for the real world. Or if they are, it is certainly under wraps – while accusations against its men leave them bitter, confused and also unprepared to assume integrated relationships on leaving school. In response to this sad affair, William and Mary has asked students to “help think of creative ways to decrease sexual assault.”

That’s right: we will have peer assessments and suggestions, not moral leadership by the administration. Any competent business CEO – and college presidents are essentially CEOs and are paid accordingly – would be contemptuous of an organization that wanted customers to find solutions to their problems. And don’t forget, at $11,000.00 a year, students are customers.

So far these executives have come up with slogans and correct thinking. They have created programs such as “One in Four” and “Every Two Minutes” to address the mess. Somehow I intuit that these are purported rape statistics: say, one in four women is sexually assaulted or that every two minutes some woman is being raped. Something like that. Victim talk, victim slogans, victim thinking… I could be wrong: perhaps “One in Four” really means one alcoholic beverage for every four hours at a party. Somehow I doubt it, though. How do you make a victim out of that?

And the community has stepped in to help by providing a plethora of sexual assault awareness and self-defense training. Even the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church is offering a series of free Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes through the semester.

The politicians can’t be left out either: the local delegate to the State Assembly has proposed House Bill 910, which would “prevent anyone charged with rape from attending or working at state schools.” Notice that his bill does not say “found guilty”; now one has only to be charged to be ineligible for state schooling. This is obviously political grandstanding since it is obscenely unconstitutional. The school is merely blind, the politician is either ignorant of constitutional law or grandstanding… or both.

So there you have it: a drunken party with lots of witnesses to testify to lewd behavior, a lot – oh, dear Lord what profuse amounts – of bloviation by those in charge. Meanwhile, student drinking continues, non-stop. When – not “if”, but “when” – a drunken sexual encounter ends badly, another tick will go down in the sexual assault column. Nothing about the blood alcohol levels of those involved, that is unless the girl immediately files sexual assault charges and is found to be incompetent to actually provide consent for sexual congress due to inebriation. Doesn’t matter how drunk the boy is, or how impaired his judgment. If you’re female, you’re the victim; if you’re male, you’re wrong. If you’re a college administrator, you start another group for “victims.”

If you’re a college administrator the one thing you never, ever do is publicly mention the elephant on the campus. The big gray one staggering across the campus holding a beer in his trunk.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Links used for this post:

Dr. Sadler's email, 11/2/2005

“W&M to propose programs to deal with sexual assault”, The Virginian-Pilot, 1/20/2006

“First Rape Case Thrown Out of Court”, Dog Street Journal, 1/20/2006

“Charges dropped against student”, The Flat Hat, 1/20/2006

“W&M student renews rape allegation”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/28/2006

“Rape Case Blown Open”, The Remnant, 2/14/2006

Dr. Sadler's email, 2/23/2006

The Remnant Responds to Dr. Sadler's email, 2/24/2006

“Subpoena of College judicial records quashed”, Virginia Informer, 3/13/2006

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; No. 46

23 comments:

CDR Salamander said...

Same thing goin on at Annapolis.

Mattias A. Caro said...

As an alum to the College I cannot speak to this recent incident. Your account is the most detailed I've read on this matter. A few things to comment, though:

1) In 2000 I personally dealt with a alcohol-related incident at W&M. The situation was the following: I was an RA of a freshman hall. The night of the final day of classes is traditionally known as "blowout" a day when students drink fairly heavily. This is by no means isolated to the WM. That day 13 of my residents drank (and all were underage), all off-campus. They returned to the dorm and to make a long story short, caused well over $3000 worth of damage to college property.

Over the next two weeks I worked closely with the college's administration, including Sam Sadler. These students were punished and the college has taken significant and effective pro-active steps to change the tenor of the last day of classes. Of course, I'm not going to tell you that it's suddenly as dry as 18th Amendment. But it is different. There is more responsibility with the drinking.

b) The College has several alcohol-related programs and while I agree with you alcohol use is a major problem, these programs are essentially a joke an add mere window-dressing to a problem. With that said, however, you must recognize that alcohol consumption in mass quantities runs deeper than a mere social problem. When a nation in its recent yesterday once banned alcohol and prohibits its consumption until the age of 21 (denying the opportunity of reasonable behavior being learned within the home), you can't heap this whole binge drinking problem on the College. After all, the BOV member DID end the party as soon as it got out of hand.

c) The college administration has reacted well to other incidents in the past. This year a student-activities for the pro-life cause was assaulted by another student during a peaceful memorial for the victims of abortion. Sadler came down unequivocally on the side of the student assaulted. What's more: the pro-life group and the student assaulted have reached out to the assailant (after she was appropriately punished) because obviously her behavior masked something far deeper in a very personal subject.

Sam Sadler has been at the college his entire adult life. He is not a bleeding-heart liberal. He's a secular humanist. He has tried to foster an atmosphere at the college where the civility of humanism can reasonably confront human failings. Because of our inherent fallenness and tendency towards our own self-corruption in our self-seeking of pleasure, this approach ultimately fails and its only success comes in cordoning off certain parts of life (our lesser selves) into their little boxes. Consumption of alcohol is on some level a release from that. But the consumption alone is not the problem.

Incidentally, though you didn't quote it, I think Sam Sadler's second email goes a long way to addressing many of your concerns.

Mattias Caro
2002
College of William and Mary

Sissy Willis said...

Pink elephant, you mean. Great post!

Scott said...

For too long, in my opinion college
and university administrators have tried to coverup incidents of crime
occuring at their institutions.

Parents and students need to know how dangerous a school is when they
make a decision about enrolling there.

Virginia's schools have had a problem of late with sexual assault
and even the murder of coeds. I'm
not surprised administrators at W&M
are taking a hard line on students
engaging in questionable sexual activity even if the case you cited
may not be a good example. Still I
do not know the details of the incident so I cannot determine if the expulsion of the student you mention is justified or not.

W&M has had some genuine rapes of coeds of late though. Virginia Tech
football players were involved in
serious instances of sexual misconduct as well and the previously mentioned murder at VCU
of a coed, apparently at the hands
of a 38 year old predator who hung
around the campus looking for young
girls shows that this is a serious
matter.

For that reason I find it hard to
share your outrage at W&M officials
taking the action that they did.

Baron Bodissey said...

Scott --

Dymphna may want to put in her two cents, but I'll give you my take on it.

First thing that happened was that two kids got really, really drunk and had sex, and later the girl charged the boy with rape.

While the case was still pending in local criminal court, Dean Sadler announced the young fellow's name to the whole campus, making him infamous. Then he was drummed out of school.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth took a look at the case and saw there was no way it would hold up in court, and threw it out.

As a result, the guy's life was thrown into the toilet, and his name dragged through the mud. When his friends tried to even the score by posting flyers on campus naming his accuser and decrying her treatment of him, it turns out that -- surprise -- it's against College rules to violate confidentiality and name the party in such a case.

Funny, the rule didn't apply when it was his turn.

I'd be pissed too, if I were he.

Dymphna's point is NOT that rape isn't an issue -- it most certainly is -- but that real rape is being obscured and its currency devalued by all these bogus "rape" charges.

And all fueled by massive alcohol abuse.

Potentilla said...

It strikes me that Sadler knew he'd stuffed up by naming names too early, but that the reason he had done something so rash was some fact he knew that made him sure (correctly or incorrectly) that the student concerned would be convicted. Either something to do with the version of events given, or (my guess) something from the student's confidential record.

Charles Martel said...

An outstanding well thought out post. Minds addled by booze are more susceptible to the inanities of the left.

Always On Watch said...

William and Mary is one of the best of the colleges in Virginia. Still, look at what's going on there! Whatever happened to W&M's code of morality?

one has only to look around at the things you may not do as a college student that are permitted as a normal citizen to know that schools have the power to stop behavior that threatens them in some way.

The very concept of what a university is supposed to be seems to have been ruined.

Suzi said...

A real sexual assault does not require stranger rape.

There is not a definition of rape that requires it be done by a stranger.

Yes, alcohol causes problems, lots of problems, including people saying yes when they didn't mean it or people thinking no doesn't mean no. (Although that doesn't require alcohol.)

But I disagree completely with your "real sexual assault" comment.

If your article was intended to say any of several things, that comment could have been left out without damaging the content of the article.

Did you mean to say that alcohol is bad? I agree.
Did you mean to say that alcohol mixed with sex causes problems? I agree.
Did you mean to say that sometimes someone says there was a rape when the sex was consensual? I agree.
Did you mean to say that sometimes we don't know if the sex was consensual? I agree.

But what I heard you say, because of that comment, was that no rapist knows his victim. Anyone who knows the other person isn't raped.

I disagree vehemently with that.

Dymphna said...

Suzi--

My apologies for a poorly worded argument. As someone who was sexually assaulted by a family member, you'd think I could have phrased my thoughts a little more clearly.

What I meant to say is that the woman assaulted off campus, by an intruder, is without doubt the victim of a crime. Period.

Girls and guys drinking heavily together over the course of several hours are impaired. Girls who congregate with men whilst consuming large amounts of alcohol are at risk for encounters they may not even remember. It is here that the line gets very fuzzy, the communications are incoherent, and you have two very different memories... that is, if there is any memory of the incident at all.

Colleges aren't doing their job protecting women, and "education" on what constitutes rape simply doesn't cut it. Such an approach is simplistic at best. And it further erodes the relations between men and women, which are rapidly going down the tube, on campus and off.

On another blog, which just happened to be addressing the same issue, a woman had charged a man with rape even though she had no memory of the incident. See this Gene Expression post, Paternalism Run Amok:

"There are two ways for feminists to arrive at their preferred endstate of increased rape convictions:

"1.) Create a double standard in the law which treats women as incapable of granting consent while intoxicated, and therefore any sexual act with a woman who is intoxicated is de facto rape. The problem is that a number of men will be convicted as rapists simply because they, while also intoxicated, took a woman's consent to be freely given.

"2.) Lessen the frequency of women being in an intoxicated state and incapable of giving consent. If paternalism is to rule the day and women are to be held to a lessened standard then by eliminating the very situation of women being intoxicated during the sex act the incidence of rape, and the accusation of rape, will decrease. Therefore, the rapes that do find their way to criminal trail will likely see a higher conviction rate."

My problem with this kind of situation, which has become commonplace in undergraduate social situations is (a) the alcohol, and (b) the differing standards (by gender) for equally inept, immature students.

Are there male predators? Sure. Are there female predators? You bet. But only one gender gets disciplined. This young woman got very, very drunk and was not given any public censure or probation for it. How come?

Charles Martel said...

Dymphna,

Your original post was sufficiently clear and your explanatory post, though unnecessary was even better. I couldn't agree more with your assertion that a drunk coed is not regarded as capable of giving consent yet a drunk male is considered fully responsible for his behavior including being able to accurately assess whether consent was given or not.

No one is denying that there are sexual predators and that a drunk woman can be raped. But the epidemic of rapes generated by lowering the "requirements" for rape as well as the willingness to to apply different standards of responsibility when two undergraduates are drunk is ridiculous.

IMO, the woman who was raped by a stranger at knife point is worlds different from a woman who has sex while drunk with an acquaintance.

If the poster who was so maligned by your original post cannot appreicate the difference perhaps she's spoiling for a fight. Thank God we can speak freely on these blogs without fear of recrimination.

Excellent analysis and follow up post.

al fin said...

Let me say that any college student who gets drunk, has sex, then charges her partner with date rape after sobering up, is neither mature enough to drink nor to have sex. The same obviously applies to the partner, if he leaves that poor an impression. The human brain does not mature until twenty five years of age. No kidding.

David said...

But why are so many college students engaging in binge drinking? Mattias seems to be suggesting that this is because they previously lived in a non-drinking environment and didn't have a chance to learn how to handle it. Maybe this was true in the '50s and '60s; I don't think it's true today. I suspect most of these students had done some drinking before coming to college.

If people drink to the point of unconsciousness, repeatedly and compulsively, there's something wrong other than an unfamiliarity with handling alcohol.

Gryffilion said...

Mattias--

"Sam Sadler has been at the college his entire adult life. He is not a bleeding-heart liberal. He's a secular humanist. He has tried to foster an atmosphere at the college where the civility of humanism can reasonably confront human failings."

Does that include raking a guy's name through the mud to prove some point to the community about how "dedicated" he is to expunging sexual assault from the campus? Give me an effing break. I've met the man in person, and he's a nice enough fellow. I find it a damn shame that he stooped so low, but given that he did I say we make him take his lumps for it.

Cato the Elder said...

Dymphna,

While I agree with the general dissection of of PC-think and victimology, I would hasten to point out that the notion you express that the alcohol problem has somehow gotten so much worse over the past years runs counter to my experience.

When I was at college in the late 1970's, you could get as drunk as a lord every night on campus for free at one of the keggers put on by the local fraternity chapters. There was at least one, usually more, every night of the week including Sundays.

Many fellow students were already confirmed drunks when they arrived at college. Many more became so because of the free flow of free beer. (As an aside, this was back in the day when the drinking and voting age, to match the draft age, had been lowered to eighteen. Now that it is again at the mystical "three times seven" limit, one would think there would be fewer problems for a college looking to rein in the underage, illegal drinkers under its care. Proof that prohibition in any form is pointless?)

My college later demonstrated the nads to ban all fraternities and sororities as the cause of most of the social problems on campus. As the "Greek" nonsense had been entrenched there for over a century, many alums wrote in and declared that if their alma mater took such a step, they would ne'er give another brass farthing to the endowment fund.

The college went ahead and did it anyway, and it has never suffered a moment's regret or financial embarrassment as a result. In fact, the endowment has never been larger.

So one thing I would say is help get rid of the stupid frats and their sister orgs (and their idiotic paddles, and prepubescent hazing rituals, and drunken routs through the quads, and all the rest of the stupidity) and you'll go a long way to reducing institutionalized alcoholism. And non-academic campus neighbors will thank you, too!

Where I live now the local university used to charter a frat that was known in the neighborhood as the "date rape fraternity." The horrible things that went on there were common knowledge. Yet the school loyally swept the dirt under the carpet for them for decades, paying off complainants, hushing things up with the media. An old tree outside the building was festooned with shoes. One of the fratholes' milder amusements, you see, was to steal footwear from drunken party guests - males and females - and fling it up into the branches, never again to be retrieved. No morals involved, just mammon.

Now it's boarded up and empty, but not because the foul denizens were finally expelled for their vileness. No, the city and a developer exercised eminent domain to obtain the building for a construction project.

It is of course sad beyond measure that the pinnacle of women's rights at college is now seen as girls' freedom to be the exact female counterparts of the drunken, promiscuous, foul-mouthed young louts of the other sex. "Hey, I can be a nose-vomiting slut if you can be a pants-crapping prick." What a waste.

Finally, as an aside, I'd like to state my personal opinion that AA is a load of hooey. It just replaces one addiction with another. Perhaps less outright debilitating, on the face of it, but what use is "freedom from alcohol" if it means sitting in dank, smoky rooms listening to drunkalogs and feeling "powerless" for the rest of your life? The whole twelve-stepping movement, in fact, has become a hotbed of PC victimology and mind control, in many cases benefitting no one but the "counselors" and "therapists" (per Nabokov, "therapist" = "the rapist"). For a different approach, I recommend that anyone interested check out the "Rational Recovery" site.

Cato the Elder said...

Oops! The line "No morals involved, just mammon" rightly belongs at the end of the paragraph below the one where I mistakenly put it.

Thus, Now it's boarded up and empty, but not because the foul denizens were finally expelled for their vileness. No, the city and a developer exercised eminent domain to obtain the building for a construction project. No morals involved, just mammon.

ScottSA said...

The real problem is not alcohol, which is after all a personal choice. Nor is the problem merely confined to the rape hysteria of the 1990s and 2000s nor even an issue of personal responsibility in its usual broad sense.

Instead, it seems to me the feminist inspired general removal of responsibility from women is the real issue.

If I, as a man, get drunk and become seduced one night by a great lardish woman I would not normally consort with, no one is going to take seriously my cries of "date rape". Yet when it happens the other way around, it becomes a crime of the very worst sort.

But the absolution of female responsibility goes well beyond that, and intrudes into every sphere of life. Economically if I drop out, tune in and sit on a streetcorner begging, I'm a bum. If a woman does the same thing, its because she's a victim of alleged "economic patriarchy". If instead of begging I decide to put in less time at work because of family commitment, I cannot expect to advance in my job. If the same thing happens to a woman, its because she's hit the alleged "glass ceiling".

Feminism, which in its present quasi-Marxist form is finally and fortunately on the wane, has a rote absolution for any type of responsibility when women are discussed. THAT, IMO, is the real issue.

Rebecca Koslover said...

Excellent post!

I'm a first year student at the University of Virginia.

I never drink. A fact that puts me in a very, VERY small minority at UVa.

Thursday night (March 16th) a student visiting from Cornell University died in one of the first year dorms after going to a frat party and then passing out drunk when he got back to the dorm (he was there visitng a friend of his who lived in the dorm).

For the first several days after the incident I was checking local news websites both here, and around Cornell University, and found that NONE of them were reporting what I thought would have been atleast a medium sized headline.

It wasn't until yesterday (Monday, March 20th) that the majority of the student body found out when the story was posted in the school's Cavlier Daily.
(See full article here: http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=26327&pid=1415 )

The article, though not directly, tells a ridiculous story.

It starts by discussing the cause of death is under investigation becuase according to University Police Sgt. Fielding there were "no outwar signs of anything criminal." As if everyones first reaction should be that he was maliciously murdered in his sleep.

The article continues by interviewing a Sigma Phi Epsilon (the frat that the dead Cornell student had been at) pledge. Not an actual full member. But a pledge. According to Mr. Adner Van Der Vaart, the fratertnity met to discuss the vents of Thursday night. After this committy meeting, the frat decided that though the dead man had rank alcohol at the party, he had ONLY been drinking out of a flask that he had brought. Therefore the frat accepts no responsibility for the events that occured.

Overall, it's a story of no one taking responsibilty, and trying to assign blame, while dancing around the one key fact:

A 19 yearold is dead due to alcohol consumption.


Rebecca Koslover
A Sober Engineering Student
Class of '09
University of Virginia

Col. B. Bunny said...

I attended undergrad school in the mid 60s and was unaware of any serious drinking problem among students. After the Army, in the early 70s, suddenly drugs (speed) seemed widespread in the university residence halls. The kind of drinking described by Dymphna is out of control drinking and is way beyond anything I encountered or heard about at university.

Of course, spring break was predicatbly alcohol soaked, but just for spring break.

All decidedly anecdotal info but the trend seems upward in terms of numbers of drinking students and quantities consumed.

The description of how the university made the problem into one of sexual assault and a search for victims is priceless. Like the MPs in Catch 22 racing up the stairs after the GI falls to the street below and dies. They burst into the room where Yossarian thinks they are going to arrest whoever pushed the GI out the window. Instead they confront Yossarian with, "You're AWOL!"

Something like that.

Nilk said...

As David says: If people drink to the point of unconsciousness, repeatedly and compulsively, there's something wrong other than an unfamiliarity with handling alcohol.

I can agree with that.

I used to drink to excess on a regular basis, and had been known on many occasions to rock up to work still dressed in the frock from the night before. (I don't do that any more)

I drank because it was fun. I could behave pretty much as I wanted, and I could always say I was drunk if I made a complete fool of myself.

Being drunk covers a multitude of sins, and I have quite a few regrets from some of the things I said and did over those years.

There are many times I thank God I came through with a minimum of scars.

Alcohol was a crutch for me. It was convenient, and being a happy drunk meant that I wasn't painful to be around. Especially when there were plenty of others in the same boat.

It was also an escape to get away from an intolerable situation.

There are so many things people say about why they get trashed, but it all comes down to one thing: Escapism.

You can pretend you are rebelling, and witty, and strong, and whole and hearty.

When you are drinking to excess, you are everything you secretly fear you can never be.

Do I still drink? Yes, but now I do it because I enjoy the taste. A nice glass of white wine can be a treat, likewise a good scotch with soda.

But not all the time. I'm better than that, and a lot stronger.

I no longer need the crutch I thought it was.

Nilk said...

Apologies for the confessional - it's not intended that way. :)

Dymphna said...

nilk/leeianne

That's one of the advantages of a nic and blogger -- you can make your point using your own experience and who's to know?

I do it often.

angryharry said...

It heartens me to see people's eyes finally being opened to the feminist-inspired hokum concerning the view that college campuses are awash with rape.

Here are two articles that might be of further interest.

Rape Baloney

Have You Been Raped Recently