Monday, February 18, 2008

Visualizing Dartmouth's Alcohol Policy

Dartblog has a telling graph illustrating alcohol infractions at Dartmouth compared to the other Ivy League Schools. We reported on similar but more extensive information last fall.


mr. average said...

Dartmouth should stop trying to enforce a unique policy and should adopt the best practices available in the Ivy League after surveying its peers. The goal should be the league average number of arrests.

Just sayin'... said...

While I agree that the arrest and citation numbers for Dartmouth are inordinately high, it is probably worth at least considering the other side of the coin here. It is entirely possible that Dartmouth students get more drunk, more frequently than students at other Ivys, which would lead to more instances meriting arrest. Based on time I've spent at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, I would say that, empirically, this is entirely plausible.

Anonymous said...

The Dartblog post quotes from an Asch piece that actually does consider both sides of the coin (however briefly):

However, today the question arises as to why Dartmouth students are cited for alcohol violations at a rate almost four times the Ivy average? As the above chart shows, no school comes close to the infractions punished by the Wright administration. From these figures we can draw two possible conclusions:

1. Dartmouth students drink radically more than the Ivy League average; or,

2. The Dartmouth administration is at war with its students and enforces the alcohol laws with incomparable harshness.

Asch doesn't seem to consider the possibility that both statements are somewhat true--i.e. that Dartmouth students drink more on campus and that S&S is a bit more aggressive than other schools in going after that stuff.

Another possibility is that differences in the data collection and reporting methods at different schools skew the results.

Joseph Asch '79 said...

The data collection at the different schools follows the protocols laid down in the federal Clery legislation. The figures are assembled by the Department of Education and should be comparable.

While it is possible that Dartmouth students do drink more than students at other Ivies, do they drink THAT much more: four times as much as the Ivy average and, for example, 16 times as much as Penn students.

Finally, I wrote: "...the College’s level of drug law violations is also close to triple the Ivy average, and if anything, drug use in Hanover is well below that of other schools. I mean, seriously, do Dartmouth kids do drugs three times as much as undergrads at Brown?"

Could Dartmouth students really do far more soft drugs than other schools? Anecdotally, this hardly seems plausible. Or, at least it seems far less plausible than the supposition that the high infraction figures come from heavy-handed enforcement.

John Bruce said...

The impression I have from anecdotal reportage, here and at places like IvyGate, suggests that the drinking problem is at least different at Dartmouth. A recent case was a 25-year-old female administrator detained by HPD while walking (with assistance) on campus, who blew 3 times the DUI limit. It appears that S&S/HPD pretty much routinely encounter severely intoxicated individuals on and near campus.

Partying is one thing, but fall-down drunks as a matter of course is something else. I don't think it was like this in the 1960s, for instance.

I would guess that one factor is the remoteness of Hanover, with fewer opportunities to blow off steam by getting out of the environment. Another is the heavy-duty social scene that seems to have grown up with the arrival of sororities, increasing the pressure on everyone.

What intrigues me is the good intentions behind SLI, which seems, however, to have been completely ineffectual at addressing the problems it described. The Greek system has returned to the status some years prior to the SLI, and the drinking issue continues unabated.

This would be reason enough, in fact, for a conscientious Board to hold Wright to account, since the SLI and its attempts to fix both Greeks and drinking were one of the major initiatives of his administration.

My wife is a Beloit College alum, and she says the Greek system there simply died out over the past 30 years or so from lack of intrerest. What's the difference at Dartmouth?

Anonymous said...

There are two kinds of "enforcement": enforcement of disciplinary rules (campus rules enforced by S&S) and enforcement of N.H. criminal laws by Hanover Po (and possibly S&S). Should the stats be kept separate? Dartblog's graph does not tell whether Dartmouth's internal rules are stricter than those of other schools, or whether the local cops are rounding up more people.

Anonymous said...

"Another is the heavy-duty social scene that seems to have grown up with the arrival of sororities, increasing the pressure on everyone."
I'm sorry, could you explain this?

John Bruce said...

Well, there was recently a confessional series, in the D, I think, by a guy who'd blacked out at a sorority formal, broke into a convenience store, and wound up serving time in the Grafton County jail. It appears that he got to the formal via an intricate series of obligations, roommate A had friend B whose date for the formal had pooped out, wherefore narrator had to fill in for B's date, but there wasn't enough to eat before the drinking started, etc. etc. And oddly enough, major -- that is to say, black-out -- drinking accompanied this whole saga.

This is not the social scene I remember from my youth. It seems remarkably heavy-duty, centering as it does on formals, big dates, etc. etc. In my youth, I had a number of dates who didn't show up for one or another weekend, but it certainly didn't involve my whole dorm making up the lack.

What else do you not understand?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why John Bruce claims any expertise regarding the present social scene when he's done little or nothing more than read a couple of articles.

"Big dates"? Dartmouth's social scene epitomizes the opposite of the "big date," since it's widely regarded as focusing on the low-key, informal hookup. The only thing that is formal about a "formal" is the attire, and even that standard has been relaxed extremely. The formal is about riding in a school bus to have a party in a different place.

John Bruce said...

All I'm saying is this is what I read. The last thing I would want would be "expertise" in that particular area. (The reason to get on a school bus to go someplace else for a party, of course, is so you can drink, and we're back to the subject of the thread.)

On the other hand, why the big deal just last month about "social spaces"? Isn't this so you can have social events? And isn't that suggestive of, um, a heavy-duty social scene? If all the social scene consists of is informal hookups, why social spaces at all? Why not just hookup spaces?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, why the big deal just last month about "social spaces"? Isn't this so you can have social events? And isn't that suggestive of, um, a heavy-duty social scene? If all the social scene consists of is informal hookups, why social spaces at all? Why not just hookup spaces?

The generation gap, in all its glory, in the comments of Dartlog.

Taking the questions in order.

1. "Social space" is not synonymous with "heavy duty social events." "Social space" is a term so broad that it is almost useless, but is basically anywhere where people are "social." The basement of a fraternity is a "social space." The sports arenas are "social spaces." Collis is a "social space." The big deal about "social space" is that on the weekends, there is a high concentration of social activity in a few "spaces," those "spaces" are all fairly similar, and some people are less comfortable than others in those spaces and must therefore endure greater discomfort to be "social" due to a lack of options.

2. See 1.

3. The leap from "social" to "heavy duty social" is unwarranted. Some social activity comes with more advance planning and higher expectations than others, but the discussion of "social space" is broader than just "heavy" stuff.

4. The social scene consists of more than just informal hookups, though there are a lot of those.

5. Every Dartmouth student has his/her own personal hookup space in the form of a dorm room, a room at an affinity house, or a room at an off-campus residence. There are also such other hookup spaces as the stacks, one's partner's room, the BEMA, any secluded spot, or any unsecluded spot if one is not shy. Students have much more control over their hookup spaces than they do over campus social spaces. For example, students who place a high priority on privacy or shortening the transit time to the hookup space have some control over which bedroom they get through ORL procedures and through the availability of non-ORL housing, and students concerned about privacy can temporarily displace roommates through bribes, sexiling, and discreet communication tactics. Students who place a high priority on comfort can buy pillows and nicer mattresses or can select a partner with a nice bed.

John Bruce said...

"Generation gap?" There's also, it seems, a consistency gap. Earlier, you (I assume) said social life is seen as "focusing on the low-key, informal hookup". But now you broaden "social spaces" to include sports arenas and the like, which suggests a lot of social activity focuses on things other than hookups.

But even if the scene is informal, why does Dartmouth require Greek organizations to endorse it? Informal or not, the "social space" debate last month was really talking about Greek social space. Again, at other institutions, like Beloit, the Greek scene has withered away for lack of interest. In the same period, Dartmouth, which never had sororities until 30 years ago, got a bunch of them, and from what I understand, they're just like sororities everywhere else. Remember Lily Tomlin and Susie Sorority?

This to me says something about Dartmouth students and the population that self-selects to apply and attend -- and may also have something to say about why you see so many references, in the D and IvyGate, and the puzzling implications in the Asch statistics, about why so many Dartmouth students drink dysfunctionally.

Clearly Wright and Susan Dentzer had the wrong solution, but I can't agree they didn't see a problem.

Anonymous said...

"Remember Lily Tomlin and Susie Sorority?"

No. What's a Lily Tomlin?

Dartmouth sororities include a lot of women who scorn the stereotype of the airheaded, drapes-selecting sorority girl. A lot of sororities, sometimes in spite of national rules that seem meant to turn members into brides rather than scholars, maintain "social spaces" that compete directly with similar spaces maintained by men's clubs. We're talking about pong basements, since that's what people do at weekends. As to why students drink generally, I don't know.

John Bruce said...

Well, if you don't know Lily Tomlin, you're ignorant. Sorry.

And aren't most sororities dry? Why else rent buses to go drink someplace? So you're saying the sororities have dry pong basements. Sounds like fun.

Different Anonymous said...

John, I've been reading all of your comments and responses. I do not disagree that the "drinking problem at Dartmouth is different." However, i would posit that most students do not really think of it as a problem, and rather just the social paradigm.

So the social scene is not quite the same as it was in the middle of Wisconsin thirty-some years ago. This still begs the question, what the hell is your point? all you seem to be doing is trying to antagonize people who are describing very clearly Dartmouth's social scene as it exists today, seemingly because it is different than it was for you.

Anonymous said...

Some sororities are required to be dry by national organizations. Some are not. None is completely dry. It can be harder to drink at formals than in one's own house, because formals take place at restaurants that usually charge for drinks and at least try to restrict drinking to 21-year olds.

A Lily Tomlin is 3 parts Vermouth and 1 part Clamato juice, served in a tumbler with a few cardamom seeds, freshly ground.

John Bruce said...

1:32 says "So the social scene is not quite the same as it was in the middle of Wisconsin thirty-some years ago" and then wants to know what my point is.

Well, my point is actually that the Hanover social scene is pretty much the same as that in the middle of Wisconsin thirty-some years ago. Sorority rush, as described here and in the D, is exactly the same as what my wife went through. Except that in the middle of Wisconsin, things have changed, while the Hanover social scene can only be described, from what I read, as retro.

This would, unfortunately, fit an interpretation that says the Ivy (or at least the Dartmouth) applicant pool is full of status-conscious social strivers, or at least the offspring of same, when the US mainstream has reached a greater level of sanity.

But this isn't just me: check the IvyGate Blog on any given day. It has a similar point: Ivy students are narcissistic, snobbish, superficial. . .

1:32 said...

It has a similar point: Ivy students are narcissistic, snobbish, superficial. . .

And once again... what is your point? Why does it matter?

John Bruce said...

OK, one more time: an Ivy transplants an institution that many schools have outgrown -- sororities -- in exactly its most snobbish, superficial form, that which existed in the Midwest in the 1950s and 60s. And it thrives!

Doesn't that seem weird to you? I used to be more sympathetic to the Greeks: during the early SLI controversies, when Susan Dentzer asked students why they weren't enthusiastic about constructing a whole new social life, the answer students gave was what if the Greek system was the one they wanted? On which, presumably, no improvement could be made?

But if you think about it, social life has evolved elsewhere, but at Dartmouth it seems stuck in some retro fantasy. And not traditionalism -- the sorority system is a recent import! We see the return of Beta and the displaced AZT demanding that the administration get them a better replacement house.

And these are presumably the best and brightest kids. You may not like that point, but that's it.

Anonymous said...

Calling the sorority system a "recent import" is quite a stretch; the first one were founded in the early '80s, so they have been around a good 25 years. Adding that many schools have out grown sororities is quite a fallacy as well; every school that still has a greek system has both fraternities and sororities. You seem to be proposing that frats are okay, but sororities somehow don't belong at Dartmouth.

And I think your conclusion about the SLI is correct, but I disagree with your interpretation. The College ultimately realized that the Greek system is the social scene that students want. And in discussing this with alums (and adiminstrators) from the past 10 years or so, many feel that it has indeed improved, albeit with considerable room for more improvement.

For every school where greek systems have died out due to "lack of interest" (e.g. Beloit), there is at least one more school where the Greek system is terminated by edict and the greeks simply go "underground" or off campus (e.g. Bowdoin, Middlebury, Kenyon). I am pretty confident that the latter scenario would readily occur at Dartmouth, because, let's be honest, what else is there in Hanover?

John Bruce said...

Well, again, I think some posts here are unintentionally revealing. Sororities around "a good 25 years" means they're not recent? Maybe if you're an especially puerile sophomore, this is the case.

And you're also sidestepping the question of why a highly selective college would favor a system like the one outlined in the D last month. "According to Shaw, the new ranking system introduced by Panhell this term greatly facilitated the rush process. Potential new members indicated their preferred sororities immediately after recruitment parties instead of first finding out which houses had invited them to return. Panhell’s computer system then automatically generated individual schedules for round two and preference night for each of the rushees." This is one of the major fallacies of computers: the idea that you can make a bad process better by computerizing it. These are supposed to be our smartest kids, and they're all caught up in this kind of silliness?

I'm skeptical of all Greeks, but the fraternity rush system isn't quite this bad. And again, it has the advantage of being traditional. The sororities, notwithstanding 25 years of what a kid of 19 might think is seniority, are not traditional. They've brought this from someplace else.

As far as I know, there have been no publicized instances of fraternities from institutions where they've been banned going underground. Maybe you can correct me on this.

Anonymous said...

The fraternities "brought this" from someplace else too, just at an earlier time than the sororities did.

John, when you ask "why a highly selective college would favor a system like" sorority rush, are you asking why women selected at this college would favor it, or why the administration would?

The traditional sorority rush is ridiculous and should be forgotten as soon as possible, but its form is not necessarily the fault of the college.

A number of schools have seen banned Greeks go underground. At Amherst, it is well known that the students who choose to live together in a dormitory that used to house the Theta Delta Chi chapter are often members of the football team and belong to a party club called "TD."

Anonymous said...

Wow, John. We brought women from someplace else 35 years ago. Why don't we just get rid of them too?

And it strikes me that 25 years is certainly long enough for the sorority system to become institutionalized, which it most certainly has at Dartmouth, to your seeming dismay.

John Bruce said...

5:17: "The traditional sorority rush is ridiculous and should be forgotten as soon as possible, but its form is not necessarily the fault of the college."

So if it's ridiculous, I repeat, why are the smartest ladies in the country going along with it? In the D piece I cited, many of those intelligent ladies thought it was about the grandest thing there could be! Abd the mood of the campus hasn't been "let's fix what's wrong with sorority rush"; instead it's "we need more female dominated social spaces [viz, sororities]"!

Are you trying to argue that the millions of females of college age in America are all burning to pledge a sorority?? I don't think this is the College's fault except insofar as Admissions seems to be missing something somewhere. And I've got to think it's missing something.

The More You Know said...

John, I think that's exactly what he's saying. Need proof? Check out these graphs from the National Panhellenic Council, of which every sorority (even locals) is a member. The graphs show that, as of 2005, just over 3.7 million women are members of over 2,900 hundred collegiate sorority chapters, with recruitment numbers rising. So yes, i think it is fair to claim that "millions of females of college age" are clamoring to join sororities.

To the issue of the rush system...yes, it's awful. But the system is dictated by Panhell, and not the College, and certainly not the women themselves. The rush system is the same everywhere, and a condition of being affiliated with NPC is following this rush system. I'm not defending it; I am just explaining it is not unique to Dartmouth.

And you still have not addressed the overriding question here: why your vehement objection to the whole concept of sororities?

Anonymous said...

"Why are the smartest ladies in the country going along with it?"

"Ladies"? Okay. They go along with it because that's how you join a sorority. It's silly and unfortunate, but it doesn't threaten anyone's health. Change will come.

What do the problems of rush have to do with the problem of balancing social spaces run by women? The lack of available buildings might exacerbate both, but that does not seem to be what you are trying to say.

"Are you trying to argue that the millions of females of college age in America are all burning to pledge a sorority??"

"Females"? Okay. Yes, millions of college women join sororities every year. You are probably aware of this. It is not the fault of the admissions office.