“I tried to raise the question: Not all of our students drink, and not all drink heavily. Their rights are being violated, their ability to study, to sleep, to walk across campus safely. Why aren’t we protecting their rights?”

The Italianization of the American campus is an established fact, and things are getting more squalid by the day.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed gazes with undisguised disgust at the shit-strewn mess that some American universities and environs have become and asks…

Oh, I dunno.

You know.

I mean, lots of people ask

Lots of people wonder – the alcohol-epidemiology program director up there in this post’s headline wonders – why the rights of sodden frats and cynical bar owners trump the rights of people who actually come to college to … well, to come to college.

But eventually things get so disgusting…

When applications at the most twisted, predatory schools start to tank (Dartmouth’s are down by fourteen percent) because so many people are disgusted, their leaders suddenly talk tough and confess that all this time they’ve been really grossed out by what Bucknell’s president labels the “self-degrading” behavior of their students… Suddenly they feel compelled to share that they’ve all been living a nonstop nightmarish performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and they want it to stop now

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UD used to think that one potently symbolic alcohol death, one wrenching hypothermic babe in the woods demise after a night of underage drinking, might rivet some attention to the Italianization… I mean, stories like Sandra Lommen’s at freezing Bemidji State University certainly haunt me… You would think that Lommen’s pitiable end (staggering into a frozen creek while trying to walk home at night after a party) would rile people up a bit…

Colleges in Wisconsin and Minnesota get quite a few of these particular student deaths – disoriented by drink they wander into the night, fall into creeks, drown or freeze… Things got so bad at Lacrosse Wisconsin area schools that a group of fraternity guys started a river-watch program…

The best things happen while you’re dancing!

Things that you would not do at home
Come naturally on the floor.

“[T]he Stanford University School of Medicine had no comment.”

And it never has had any comment since the curious 2008 death of one of its faculty in a private plane crash. People who knew John Borchers at Stanford added their praise to this glowing obituary; and only if you bother scrolling down to the very last comment on the story do you discover (details here) that Stanford had hired a man with ten years of substance abuse behind him, and that Borchers took his plane up with the following substances in his body:

In addition to cocaine and Prozac, toxicology tests by the FAA turned up opiates, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic drugs…

A raging addict was treating addicts at Stanford University, and Stanford never got anywhere near acknowledging that, much less explaining why it thought it was safe to have this man in patient care.

… Borchers was … under investigation by the Medical Board of California and in danger of losing his medical license. According to the NTSB, an April 22, 2008, accusation by the [Medical Board of California] “documented a history of substance dependence and abuse for more than 10 years preceding the accident, involving the misuse of at least four different substances (including alcohol) and treatment through at least six different programs for substance-related disorders during that period.”

A raging addict took a plane up at night, and if he hadn’t managed to crash it into a mountain, he might well have crashed in nearby Incline Village, killing people.

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So, the problem with failing to acknowledge mistakes like this is that they keep getting made. Look, for a recent case, at how many incidents it took before the University of New Mexico dismissed its chief lobbyist.

Chief lobbyist. The person who represented the university to the state government. A huge alcoholic, he’d racked up his third DWI (plus a non-DWI alcohol-related arrest) before the university finally pulled itself together and fired him.

This man is well-connected (‘son of longtime state Rep. Henry “Kiki” Saavedra’) and in a vastly corrupt, crony-ridden state like New Mexico I suppose that takes you some distance. But even in that context… Jeez.

Oshkosh B’Grolsch

The Oshkosh campus of the University of Wisconsin is number one among the nation’s colleges and universities, according to this guy, for alcohol-related arrests among its students.

The schools of the state of Wisconsin – famed for its hearty drinking culture – do well across the board for drug and alcohol related naughtiness (see the last chart on this page).

“Maybe there is a place for fraternities as hothouses for future alcoholics who engage in sometimes violent behavior.”

Reflections on the modern American distillery.

‘But things later appear to have turned to alcohol-fueled confusion and — at least based on the perception of one member of the party — a jealous rage.’

A graduate student at UD‘s school – George Washington University – kills his best friend in a drunken rampage.

More great publicity for Rutgers University…

…. which seems to be going down a stupid-violent-corrupt-university To-Do List.

“I think the average Minnesotan would have a very difficult time understanding how any business could do $900,000 in sales and lose $16,000 doing it,” [one state representative] said. “With this information, we probably need to take a deeper look.”

Along with all of the other blessings of university-sponsored alcohol sales at football games (extra police, obnoxious behavior, etc.), you’d think making a profit would be a no-brainer. You charge thirsty idiots immense sums for camels’ piss — What could go wrong?

The University of Minnesota fought so hard for the right to sell booze at its stadium… Its president lobbied and testified… UM students deserved alcohol…

And it won! But now… Where’d all the money go?

Vegetarians are less …

aggressive.

Unless they’re shitfaced.

Can Chico Change?

Chico, California, the town, and Chico State University, have a lethally dangerous drinking problem. UD‘s been following (scroll down for background stories) the several recent alcohol poisoning student deaths there, and Chico State’s years of efforts to make them stop. But it’s an old – a very old – story in Chico, the business of drunk and disorderly. The town’s just like that, and the university conforms to the ways of the town.

This article, in Chico State’s newspaper, describes a community meeting in which a preliminary discussion of solutions took place. The idea is to get town and gown to cooperate… But this will inevitably involve asking Chico’s wall to wall bars to cool it on three for the price of one specials, etc. And UD just doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

Meanwhile, Chico State’s boozy rep precedes it:

“The reputation that the school has received, deserved or not, seems to be affecting the type of students that apply,” [one participant] said, citing … surveys… that show a 13 percent increase of incoming freshmen classified as “high-risk drinkers” over the national average.

Year after year, Chico State admits a lot of freshmen already very serious about their drinking, people who know they can drink in comfort, with plenty of company, on that particular campus. I have no idea how you change this fact.

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And at the University of Virginia, where two students had to be put on life support for alcohol poisoning (both have recovered), the head of the Greek organizations there says:

“You hear stories about people dying and thankfully here we’ve never had that situation but it’s possible, so it’s scary and we’re going to take any steps necessary to prevent that from happening…”

The Mean Streets of Chico

On Dec. 8, an intoxicated Chico State student, Brandon Fisher, 21, of Valley Springs wandered into a street after bar-hopping in a semester-ending pub crawl, [university president Paul] Zingg said. Police said Fisher was struck and critically injured by the pickup truck of a Butte College student, Matthew Lambert, 20. Lambert was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

“About 10,000 tubers attended the annual Labor Day weekend float on the Sacramento River this year, and 2,000 crowded Beer Can Beach, an island on the river. During the event, police performed 63 river rescues, Glenn County Undersheriff Rich Warren said. Ten people were arrested for driving under the influence near the river.”

It’s wild. When you’ve got enormous concentrations of drunks, as at Chico State and environs, and at Washington State, your school becomes impossible to distinguish from Skid Row. Same mass public intoxication; same injury and death stats. At Washington State, students are constantly falling out of windows; at Chico things run more toward choking on your own vomit.

You truly have to wonder at a town, long famous for attracting drunks from hundreds of miles away, deciding that a great holiday tradition would be to put them all on the local river at the same time.

Update, Chico State

In light of a student drinking death and other hideous things (background here), the school’s president has just shut down all fraternities and sororities. No Greek life of any kind is permitted. Greek buildings must cover up the letters on their facades.

Addressing a gathering of the Greek community in the Bell Memorial Union Auditorium, he said students don’t get a “free pass” for allowing a brother to drink 21 shots on his 21st birthday, and “pass out in his vomit.”

… Zingg told the Greeks they will not be able to recruit or have socials until the spring semester, at which time a re-education and reinstatement program will be developed.

Having read the sorry history of this shit-faced school, UD isn’t hopeful about the re-education bit. She believes, as she wrote in the background post she linked to in her first paragraph, that all current Chico State students must be told to leave. All must transfer. A new class of students will then be admitted to a campus with permanently shut down fraternities and sororities.

Chico State Body Count.

Four college students, likely to be five including [Chico State’s Mason] Sumnicht, [who has been taken off life support,] have died this semester [in Chico] from alcohol or drug abuse […].

“It seems incomprehensible,” [a policewoman] said.

One friend wonders if, for his 21st birthday, Sumnicht attempted to drink 21 shots.

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It’s not entirely clear from news reports, but this seems to be the breakdown: Two of these deaths have been Chico State students; one seems to have been a person visiting Chico State. Two others who died were students at other colleges in the town of Chico.

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Judging by this 2005 article, recent Chico State presidents have tried, and tried hard. Faculty were almost totally uncooperative (“[F]aculty do not perceive it as their responsibility… to deal with this serious problem.”), despite the fact that, as the two presidents who wrote the article note, “they have tremendous influence on their students.” The presidents suggest shutting down the fraternities.

That hasn’t happened.

What to do? The town’s a toxic site, and Chico State, with its disastrous history of self-destructive student drunks, is its epicenter.

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Since the stubbornness of the destruction suggests that the core problem is a profoundly – maybe permanently – embedded culture of booze, one approach would be to empty the campus of students. At the end of this academic year, announce that all students must transfer to another institution. Close down all fraternities and sororities, and do other things to make it difficult to drink yourself to death (this would include getting far tougher with bars, the local city council, advertisers, etc.). Once you’ve done all that, admit a new freshman class. Make it clear to those admitted that they are part of a new Chico, and if they can’t sober up they will be expelled right away.

“[F]our other [Washington State University] students have been hospitalized this year after drinking so much that they stopped breathing. They were revived…”

A fifth student has died.

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