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


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…

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3 Responses to ““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?””

  1. Dom Says:

    There’s a whole blog devoted to “college student got drunk and fell in the river” deaths: Footprints at the River’s Edge.

    Some time ago there was a theory about a serial killer, or maybe a whole roving gang of them, being responsible, but no… unless you count the cynical bar owners.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dom: Thanks for that link. I read several of the cases.

    Yes, I’d read about one community having evolved a serial killer theory – because they couldn’t believe that that many people had gotten drunk and fallen into their river…

  3. theprofessor Says:

    UD, in all honesty, the alcohol situation today is no worse than it was in the 1970s, and in many respects, it is probably better. You could hardly walk down the hall of a dorm on Saturday or Sunday morning without encountering a pile of vomit. We kept our own mop and bucket in the communal bathroom to do enough clean-up to take a dump without being grossed out. Friends who went to Midwestern state universities sometimes slept outside to get away from the stench. There is a reason that Animal House (1978) resonated so strongly with the college crowd.

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