A Little More on Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College.

At a time when there is so much actual injustice around us — third-rate schools, mass incarceration, immigrants dehumanized — it’s bizarre to see student activists inflamed by sushi or valorizing a shoplifter. This is kneejerk liberalism that backfires and damages its own cause.

Surfin’ Tragedy

Sing it:

His son was failing on the SAT, woe-oh

Kid was never getting into USC, woe-oh

No one would have known that today was yet to show

A tragedy, woe-oh… surfin’ tragedy 

He’d pay for his kid to keep his head held high, woe-oh

He’d pay a quarter mill… the assistant coach would lie, woe-oh

Little did he know that today was yet to show

A tragedy, woe-oh… surfin’ tragedy 

Skilled at surfin’, he was the best

There wasn’t a wave he couldn’t finesse
Rick Singer told him he could do the same
With the bribe ’em into college game

The sun is setting on the Earth today, woe-oh

The tide as it sets seems to say, woe-oh

You should’ve stayed at home

But how could you have known

Your destiny was to be

Surfin’ tragedy, surfin’ tragedy

‘Unchecked emotion has replaced thoughtful reasoning on campus. Feelings are no longer subjected to evidence, analysis or empirical defense. Angry demands, rather than rigorous arguments, now appear to guide university policy.’

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. could be talking about Oberlin College. But he’s talking about Harvard’s capitulation to students seemingly unable or unwilling to understand the rights of accused people to legal representation. Sullivan is representing the vile Harvey Weinstein; because of this, students demanded that he be thrown out as faculty dean of one of the school’s residential houses as he made students feel “unsafe.”

Sullivan writes that he is “willing to believe that some students felt unsafe,” but UD ain’t willing. It is beyond pitiable to fear that a vile person’s attorney is going to hurt you, and UD‘s going to go on record believing that any undergraduate woman impressive enough to get into Harvard (assuming she got in legitimately…) simply can’t be that pitiable. UD does these trembling babes the honor of assuming that their real motive is to keep national attention focused on the issue of sexual abuse, and they saw an opportunity here.

When the address of your investment fund – which claims 56% returns – is a fraternity house at a big ol’ Southern university…

UD thinks a little caution is in order.

But this is America, land of the bold, where mere undergrads majoring in biology can open ponzi schemes and use them to finance the Vegas strip club lifestyle one associates with people in their thirties at least.

The scheme – call it a kedge fund – couldn’t have worked without a supportive community of drunks/the mentally challenged/fellow criminals. It takes a village.

This Spring Break, it’s the turn of South Beach Fla. to be shocked, shocked, that…

… beachy municipalities with wall to wall bars and little law enforcement attract really big vicious crowds. As one traditional spring break town after another says enough to the carnage, larger and larger groups of drunk fucks concentrate in smaller and smaller spaces, to the point where South Beach, and the handful of other still-certified SB locations, are absolutely choked with traffic jams police stops drugs guns fights biker gangs and open-air rapes for as long as two months. Residents seem to think this isn’t the best way to welcome in the spring, and even the merchants who in the past haven’t minded the grossness because it brings in so much cash have begun to respond to the city council’s pleas that they close up early or stop feeding infinite liquor to everyone who shows up or whatever.

UD wonders, though. Bestiality will have its way, and our enterprising country should be able to produce one or two cities/towns willing to make a name for themselves as crapulous destinations of last resort. I’m putting my money on Myrtle Beach.

Two shootings and some truly amazing fights…

Spring Break 2019 is just getting started.

The Heroine of the Piece…

… and there’s finally a heroine! – is Olivia Jade Giannulli, who has been honest from the start about the pointlessness of college for a subset of Americans. Have you ever bothered checking how many successful actors and actresses have even attended college? These are people who start auditioning while they’re young and just keep going, and it’s clear that Olivia – a product of Hollywood – is one of them. Sans blague, UD finds this tweet of hers incredibly to the point, canny, and worthy of immortality.

it’s so hard to try in school when you don’t care about anything you’re learning

She is absolutely correct. The reason Olivia’s folks are doing the perp walk right now is that you don’t get to raise people who don’t care about what colleges teach and then desperately try to get them to commit years of their life to colleges. That way lies admissions-fraud. People who attack Olivia as ignorant for writing things like this are quite mistaken.

Do you think that because UD runs a blog about universities she thinks everyone should go to one? Just the opposite. As Olivia says of her wildly successful parents: “Mostly my parents really wanted me to go because both of them didn’t go to college… I think they did fine.” Virtually no one in her world goes to college – check it out if you don’t believe me — check out your favorite star’s bio — and though maybe some of them might in theory get something out of it, that’s just the way it is. Hollywood is otherwise engaged, and in fact it’s pretty common for likely screen stars to drop out of high school. Big-time athletes and actors are on fast tracks; athletes forced by silly rules to be in college for a year or two are, many of them, joke students. College is kind of an absurdity for lots of types of people.

Olivia is acutely aware that her Hollywood ma and pa forced her to go to college for social and sentimental, rather than intellectual, reasons. She rightly resents having to cool her jets for four years (or more! if she really intends to graduate) as she gets older while barely pubescent competitors strut their stuff.

So don’t give Olivia a hard time for being spoiled and taking up some striving brilliant first-generation immigrant’s place at USC; she’s been quite clear that she doesn’t want to be there and that the striving immigrant is more than welcome to help her engineer her escape (it can’t come soon enough!).

‘Abolition is the only answer. All social fraternities — alongside the sycophantic sorority life that they exploit — must go. They must go permanently and forever, at Penn State and everywhere else. Reform is simply not possible.’

A Time magazine columnist agrees with UD that sadistic male cults should be restricted to heavily policed ‘ultras’ football arenas and trailer parks for bikers. Not a good fit with universities.

Becoming kinder, safer places would do such violence to their legacy that it would mean altering their organizations beyond recognition.

And that in itself would be a cruelty.

“Kids have died, the university didn’t do shit, I’m not really worried.”

UD quoted this University of Iowa student’s comment – to a policeman – in an earlier post (the policeman was trying to remind the fraternity member that in the wake of more than ordinary frat-carnage, Iowa fraternities weren’t allowed to put on private drinking events, even though some brazenly continue to do this) because it’s so pithy a summary of the fraternity/sorority situation at many American universities (“the party school is itself a business.”). As UD has often pointed out, the routine response of schools to routine death and near-death at their frats is temporary shut-down of this or that group, or totally ignored sanctions. This article looks at the problem in depth.

UD remembers, as a Northwestern University undergrad…

… trying not to stare at the Greek letters branded into the arm of a fellow student across from her at a seminar table. What could this degrading mark mean?

UD had much to learn about fraternities.

Sororities too. In the wake of a mentally unstable Northwestern university coed’s suicide, her mother is suing her sorority, and anyone else within a ten-mile range of the place, for neglect, wrongful death, etc. Turns out sororities and fraternities degrade, humiliate, and otherwise torture people who want to join them. Who knew?

UD does not wish to sound unfeeling. But this lawsuit will fail precisely because everyone knows that these organizations are the most perilously perverted locations you can find outside the pages of The Story of O. Enter them at your own risk. If masochism ain’t your thing, avoid them; and certainly if you have a history of mental fragility, avoid them like the plague.

Lots of people like to be hurt or are willing to be hurt in order to be included in a group; but lots of other people have more self-respect than this. And then there’s the category at hand: Some people aren’t emotionally strong enough to undergo protracted torture. You can’t expect the sorority to notice this. On the contrary, sororities often represent a group of women salivating at the spectacle of other peoples’ distress. If I’m not making this explicit enough: They like this kind of thing.

So who’s to blame? NU doesn’t blame the sorority. Sure, the school has suspended them for a decent interval (all schools temporarily suspend on the occasion of pledgedeath), but the place will be up and torturing again in no time. Universities typically consider fraternity carnage the price of doing business. ‘”Kids have died, the university didn’t do sh*t, I’m not really worried,” [a] police officer recalled a 23-year-old [University of Iowa fraternity member] saying [to him].’

As with most suicides, “blame” is not only hard to assign; it’s hard even to invoke as a relevant category. The lawsuit will fizzle; the only likely outcome is the elevation of the sorority’s status: That’s the place where a pledge killed herself.

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UD thanks Dirk for the Iowa link.

“Virtually everything the fraternity industry does relies on 18- and 19-year-old men to implement it and make life and death decisions.”

Surely you didn’t expect UD to be optimistic about a recent uptick in legal and other efforts to keep the lads from killing each other.  The lawyer quoted in my headline notes the problem:  No adults in the room.  

‘Even and Smith’s study didn’t pinpoint what it is about Greek organizations that might hurt [the grades of] their members … but previous research provides a hint. A 2009 study found that Greek-affiliated students drink more than non-Greek-affiliated ones…’

The study goes on to note that despite a schedule mainly devoted to drinking, hazing, parties, football, basketball, and lacrosse, fraternity guys go on to do pretty well in the world.

***********

And I mean duh.







“Universities don’t get much worse than San Diego State, an epicenter of the drug trade, a money-hemorraghing sports joke, and a school run (though considering what goes down there, is anyone actually running it?) by a president whose greed so outraged the local community that legislators moved toward imposing mandatory salary caps on executive pay there.”

If I may quote myself. San Diego State gives off the same hopeless pointless stew of corruption vibes that University of Louisville does – and what’s most interesting is that these schools probably always will be like this. Whether it’s Piero Anversa or a fraternity just taken off suspension and just put back on suspension for being irremediably violent, nothing gets done because the people in charge are cynical greedy party-school-modelers.

You know – recall what the West Virginia University professor who studies the phenom up close — really up close — wrote:

Many residential universities, such as the so-called party schools … have become so well-known for their super-charged party environments that it would be very difficult to change the culture without negatively impacting enrollments that are now dependent upon the lure of this party scene. Moreover, many of the disruptive behaviors that I document in the book (e.g., burning couches, riots) have become “traditions” for both current students and alumni. As such, traditions are very difficult to change.

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

[People who live in bad neighborhoods] feel terrorized, they change their routines to avoid certain streets, they don’t leave their homes at night. In many college towns, residents are beginning to experience similar problems (albeit less life-threatening) as a result of a minority of extreme partiers who make life uninhabitable [I think Weiss is conflating two phrases here: life unendurable and neighborhoods uninhabitable.] for their neighbors.

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

While it is easy to see why bar and club owners are reluctant to eliminate drink specials or other promotions – after all, they make their profits from student drinking – it is more difficult to understand why university administrators, police and local town officials have not been more effective in reducing some of the problems caused by the party subculture. In the long run, it really boils down to a rather controversial reality: the party school is itself a business, and alcohol is part of the business model. Schools lure students to attend their schools with the promise of sports, other leisure activities and overall fun. Part of this fun, whether schools like it or not, is drinking. Thus, even as university officials want to keep students safe, they also need to keep their consumers happy. This means letting the alcohol industry do what it does best – sell liquor.

That’s why SDSU keeps suspending and suspending and suspending a criminal enterprise: You’re talking about a big chunk of their yearly enrollment!

Let’s just not have any bullshit about it, okay? Administrators get millions and students get maimed. End of story that will never end.







John Beckman, NYU Spokesperson, Writes a Strong and Honest Letter to the Student Newspaper.

Washington Square News has suggested that three recent campus suicides should have been marked more publicly by the school, and that they may reflect NYU’s lack of a community and possibly substandard mental health services. Beckman responds:

[S]uicides, especially among the young in a closed community like a school, are prone to a contagion effect, which is exacerbated by rapidly spread information about the deaths and by honoring the individuals publicly.

… [I]t is a perilous endeavor to speculate about the motives for self-harm. The defining characteristic of suicide is typically deep, unrelenting hopelessness that goes untreated. It is little more than a guessing game to try to ascribe a suicide’s reason to one thing or another. That is why we were so disappointed to see WSN … impute the student’s death to a lack of community at NYU.

… WSN’s characterization of NYU’s health and mental health services doesn’t tell the real story. We routinely conduct patient satisfaction surveys with students, and the overwhelming majority feel their clinician was knowledgeable, that they felt respected, that their appointment was scheduled promptly and that the services helped them stay in school.

… [W]hile some will no doubt continue to disagree with our position [we hope] they will at least come to understand that our decision is guided by the research in the field, our experience and an unwavering focus on doing what is the best interests of students.

It sounds cruel – don’t honor the students publicly, etc. – but NYU is correct about the research and about the enigmatic complexity of the event. Boris Pasternak wrote:

We have no conception of the inner torture which precedes suicide.

… The continuity of his inner life is broken, his personality is at an end. And perhaps what finally makes him kill himself is not the firmness of his resolve but the unbearable quality of this anguish which belongs to no one, of this suffering in the absence of the sufferer, of this waiting which is empty because life has stopped and can no longer fill it.

… What is certain is that they all suffered beyond description, to the point where suffering has become a mental sickness. And as we bow in homage to their gifts and to their bright memory, we should bow compassionately before their suffering.







Student suicide…

… presents agonizing problems for universities. How do you mark it communally without risking contagion? What if the student’s family has begged you to preserve its privacy? Students may want to discuss whether it points to larger problems with campus mental health care, or with quality of life at the school altogether.

Like other large urban universities, New York University has had more than its share of student suicides, including suicide contagions. It has had to retrofit its library to keep students from jumping off its high atrium.

This year, there have been two suicides in the med school, and, at the beginning of this month, an NYU freshman threw himself in front of a subway train. In the med school cases, the school announced each death, expressed sympathy, and reminded students of available counseling. It has very carefully not gone beyond this, even when prompted:

[Journalists asked NYU] if the school was concerned over a trend of suicide among medical professionals and if any larger efforts are being made by the university to prevent future instances, but the Medical school’s response didn’t tackle those questions.

“Because of the sensitive nature of this issue, we will not be commenting further,” the spokesperson said.

The school has been even more subdued about the 18-year-old male freshman who killed himself this month. Asked why, a spokesman said:

“If we believe that refraining from sending a broad communication can reduce the chances of a contagion effect, we are more than willing to absorb any resulting criticism.”

The spokesman cited “the university’s own research and personal experiences with suicide along with consultations with national experts.” Rather than make a large public announcement, the school has acted locally, contacting “anyone the university deems … in close proximity to the student: family, friends, professors, floormates and sometimes even the student’s entire school or degree program.”

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

The real problem, if you ask me, is that suicide seems to all of us one of the most eloquent things we do. We attach all sorts of broad existential significance to the act, even if most actual suicides are, in the words of A. Alvarez, “a terrible but utterly natural reaction to the strained, narrow, unnatural necessities we sometimes create for ourselves.”







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