The Arizona Desert Lamp

Column on Get REAL in today’s Wildcat

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 3 November 2009

Get REALThe Internet-People declare: All your Paper are belong to us! Ben Kalafut had a piece on Proposition 400 in yesterday’s paper (and if you’re a Tucson voter, take the time to read his excellent breakdowns of the other propositions – 200, 401, and 402); today, Laura was kind enough to find a spot for our tilting at the windmills of Legal Age 21.

Writing the piece also served as a reminder of one of the benefits of blog format – no word limits! Sure, this allows for a lot of run-on and obsessive inquiries to little end, but it also prevents necessary clarification of certain lines.

One that particularly sticks out is the mention of President Shelton’s refusal to sign the Amethyst Initiative, an item that this site first reported in its infancy, over a year ago. Yet reading it through again (older, wiser!), Shelton’s dismissal of the Initiative comes off as even more venal than before. Here is what signatories of the initiative pledge to do:

To support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age.

To consider whether the 10% highway fund “incentive” encourages or inhibits that debate.

To invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

We pledge ourselves and our institutions to playing a vigorous, constructive role as these critical discussions unfold.

Here was President Shelton’s response (with emphasis added):

Underage drinking in general and binge drinking specifically are serious concerns for our society and certainly at universities where so many young people in the 18-20 age group are present.  It is wise to think about, plan and execute programs that address these problems.  From my perspective, I do not believe the issue is sufficiently simple to be solved by lowering the drinking age.  I have not signed the petition.  The studies with which I am familiar indicate that starting to drink earlier can lead to more problematic behavior in later life.  At the UA, we address these issues through education and programs to inform and assist students.  I offer a list of some of our interventions below as provided by the VP for Student Affairs.

But there’s nothing in the Initiative which makes any President beholden to any drinking age! All it wants is a critical conversation, with honest airing out of facts. Instead, President Shelton alludes to “studies” with absolutely vague conclusions (so much for scientific rigor), and lists of a list of bureaucratic forms that make other health-ranking bureaucracies happy. He fails to mention the issue of the highway fund, although I suspect he’d drop the drinking age to twelve if it got some money from the state legislature. His response is the antithesis of an “informed and dispassionate debate.”

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Presidents Nagata and Talenfeld: Get REAL

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 22 October 2009
Perhaps Sen. Weingartner's bottle initiative could pay for a few of these?

Perhaps Sen. Weingartner's bottle initiative could pay for a few of these?

Apparently, it’s National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. Yet even if the need for “awareness” is somewhat dubious, the Choose Responsibility folks have used the opportunity to launch a new initiative, Get REAL, aimed at student governments around the country:

In conjunction with National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week 2009, Choose Responsibility has launched Get REAL, an initiative for student body presidents at college and university campuses nationwide that encourages responsibility, education, and leadership on alcohol issues.

Student body leaders possess the skills and real-world experience necessary to ensure that the debate about binge drinking, the legal drinking age, and campus alcohol policies is allowed to continue unimpeded on their campuses. Over the course of the coming months, Get REAL signatories will work together to foster productive discussions about alcohol that emphasize peer-to-peer accountability and explore all possible alternatives that will make their campuses safer.

In effect, this is an Amethyst Initiative for the student set. The program was just formally launched yesterday, but already has 23 signatories, including the student body presidents from major schools like Florida State, West Virginia, and Oregon State. Although this is often interpreted as some full-throated ‘Repeal!’ battle cry, the aims of the initiative are far more modest (again, like Amethyst):

By signing the statement, what am I committing to do?

When you sign on to Get REAL, you are pledging to engage your fellow students, campus administrators, and public officials in a frank conversation about all of the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21. Additionally, as student body leaders, Get REAL signatories commit themselves to helping students at their schools have a meaningful impact on the direction of campus alcohol policies, and, most importantly, to making responsible decisions about alcohol use.

President Shelton choose craven defense of bad policy and worse remedies; it will probably take a few more alcohol-fueled deaths before he is forced to consider the matter seriously. Hopefully, our own President Nagata is a little wiser, and a little less busy, and will be able to focus on this issue which (to use the parlance of the establishment) affects so many of his constituents.

We hate email campaigns as much as anyone, but if you have a minute or two we’d really appreciate it if you sent an email to President Nagata, urging him to add his name to the list. Heck, we even wrote the email for you! (Just be sure to replace the email and signature with your own name.)

From: yourname@email.arizona.edu

To: asuapres@email.arizona.edu

Subject: Please Sign the Get REAL Initiative

President Nagata,

As a student at the University of Arizona, I am very concerned about binge drinking and the impact that the current drinking age has had on campus and across the country. According to a Choose Responsibility press release, “Recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveal that the problem of toxic drinking is getting worse on campuses across the nation: rates of binge drinking and unintentional alcohol-related deaths among the 18-24 college population increased between 1998 and 2005. Another recent study from researchers at the University of Minnesota identified 18 heavy-drinking schools and tracked survey results of alcohol-related problems on those campuses in 1993 and 2005, with little or no improvement over that 12-year period.” According to a 2007 report by Peggy Glider, heavy drinking was more predominant among those under the age of 21 than among those of legal drinking age. Such statistics do not account for the costs of imposing such an age, which requires police to devote resources to underage drinking that might otherwise be used to combat the perception – and reality- that much of the UA campus is unsafe.

Choose Responsibility has launched a new initiative directed at student body presidents, which aims to put them at the forefront of this national conversation. Signing the statement means that you pledge to do the following:

You call on your fellow students….

  • To make responsible decisions about alcohol.
  • To make sure friends who have consumed too much receive medical attention.
  • To never mix alcohol use and driving.

You call on your campus administrators…

  • To create an on-campus environment that ensures the safety of all students.
  • To provide alcohol education and prevention programs that acknowledge the reality of alcohol use and give students the tools they need to make responsible decisions about alcohol and prevent alcohol-related emergencies.
  • To engage in dialogue about the legal drinking age and its impact on campus life.

You call on your elected officials…

  • To recognize the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21.
  • To acknowledge that 18-20 year-olds are adults in all respects but one—they may vote, serve in the armed forces, marry, adopt children, and sign contracts, but are not able to choose whether or not they would like to drink.
  • To consider alternatives to Legal Age 21 that will create a safer environment on college campuses, and better prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

This initiative has already been signed by student body presidents at major public universities like your own, including West Virginia and Florida State. As the preeminent student leader on campus, I sincerely hope that you will use this position to take a stand on this very important issue. Please sign the Get REAL initiative, and show the students at the University of Arizona that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being as it relates to this important issue.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME HERE

UPDATE: Title changed to reflect the fact that there’s no reason that the GPSC president shouldn’t be involved as well. Although the overwhelming majority of President Talenfeld’s constituency is over twenty-one years of age, the effects of the current regime ripple through the entire community. His email address is davidt1@email.arizona.edu.

How do we know that Meredith Hay really is provost at the UA? Why won’t she show us her paystub?

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 14 September 2009

UA Death Panel

Look, honestly, there really does seem to be something rotten in the campus of Tucson. Perhaps we are coming close to a tipping point where the conspiratorial seed realizes that it is in the majority, and rises up publicly. Perhaps this will result in the disclosure of definitive information implicating Provost Hay and President Shelton in their alleged malfeasance. Nevertheless, it is still very hard to take seriously a group that draws a direct connection from its critiques to the barely coherent ramblings of the WorldNetDaily set. Seriously, guys – y’all need to hire a PR agent or something.

Also, be sure to check out the bonus “yo momma” joke against “Suzie” near the bottom of the post. In an inversion of internet norms, the comments section actually contains the most substantive and fair-minded debate, and is highly recommended.

* – Hey, Birffers are fun! So are imagined 16th century plays! Enjoy both – at once! – at the Kosmo.

**  – I would also like to thank Urantian Sojourn and MS Paint for artistic inspiration. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.

Every time you drink a beer, Wilbur Wildcat kills a kitten.

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 8 September 2009
The Dean of Students' office poses for a picture.

The Dean of Students' office poses for a picture.

Hide your women and children – the Visigoths ‘party school’ label is here! That, at least, the undercurrent of this Star Republic piece, which deems that the UA has descended into that bacchanalian circle of hell, replacing ASU as the biggest party school in the state. The evidence for this claim?

Playboy magazine’s May issue named UA No. 5 in its biennial party-school rankings. ASU, which once topped the list, trailed at No. 15.

Of course, as the piece points out, the Princeton ‘party school’ rating system held ASU at number 20, while the UA didn’t make the top 25 cut; and further, these rankings are “subjective and unscientific,” but they do provide really good bait for newspapers looking for something sensational with a touch of authority to merit reporting (in other words – kinda flossy, kinda bossy). Even accepting the Playboy survey at face value, it’s important to note its methodology. For one, a new addition to the criteria was a ‘brain’ factor – not exactly something to be ashamed of. ‘Brains’ accompany ‘Sports’ and ‘Bikini’ as factors. Further, the score that involves drinking – ‘Campus Life’ – involves the following factors:

A beer is only as good as the company you drink it with, so we used these formulas: 2 x (the number of bars + the number of liquor stores + the gallons of beer consumed in the state each year) = N. Enrollment / (the number of clubs + the number of Greek organizations) = Q. Each school’s Q was then subtracted from the highest Q in the set to get Z. 100 / N+100 / Z gave us our number.

Next time you go to a club recognition ceremony, be sure to thank your student government representative for helping to give us that boost in Playboy. The rest of the formulas are equally ludicrous – as is suggesting that this somehow means more than other faux-rankings.

But wait – there’s more!

The University of Arizona has seen an increase in alcohol violations on campus, with police reporting 484 violations in 2008, a 42 percent increase over 2007 and the most in at least five years. UA Police Commander Robert Sommerfeld attributed the rise to a combination of other violations, more officers and more people willing to file reports.

The piece had the audacity to entitle this section ‘Bad behavior surges’, ignoring entirely Commander Sommerfeld’s own admission that this uptick in stats is a reflection of a change in enforcement priorities, rather than any change in behavior among students. Such an uptick is disturbing not because more kids are drinking (they aren’t), but because officers that are supposedly involved in ‘community policing’ are instead moving towards policing strategies that depend on alienating almost the entire population over which they watch. Readers of this site already know that these sort of violations are more often than not petty slaps on the wrist with little relation to rambunctious behavior, but as an example let’s take a perfectly mundane example from earlier this year:

A UAPD officer stopped two men for doing skateboard tricks at Bear Down Gym on Aug. 31 at 11:40 p.m.

After talking with the men, the officer smelled intoxicants.

The officer asked one of the men, a UA student, if he had been drinking and the man replied that he hadn’t been.

However, when the officer was about to administer a preliminary breath test, the man admitted he had a little vodka earlier and the breath test confirmed he had been drinking.

The other man, a Pima Community College student, also said he had been drinking and a breath test confirmed this.

Both men were cited and released.

The UA student was referred to the Dean of Students Office on charges of a Code of Conduct violation.

Kids drinking before they skateboard – next thing you know, they’ll be listening to that rock and roll music. Or worse – they’ll join a fraternity! Luckily, at the rate Dean Thompson is exiling Greek houses, by 2015 there won’t be any houses left to tempt the kids into a life of debauchery:

Since fall 2008, UA has removed four fraternities for various infractions such as hazing and alcohol violations. Another fraternity had its charter pulled Aug. 27 by its national organization.

Again, rather than indicating any change in behavior, these removals indicate a change in enforcement strategy – although it would be interesting to hear that the past year’s Greek behavior has wildly deviated from its behavior since, say, 1925. Ironically enough, this crusade against partying in Greek life has resulted in the school being perceived as more party-prone, thanks to all of the media coverage.

Finally, the article touches on the problems with Zona Zoo:

As the Wildcats prepare to open their football season today, UA officials hope last year’s uproar over the Zona Zoo section won’t recur. The Zoo is billed as the largest student cheering section in the Pac-10 with a 10,000-seat block at football games and 2,290 coveted seats at basketball games.

During a basketball game against Stanford

in February 2008, Zona Zoo students began chanting at the referee using the F-word after a disputed call.

UA officials met with students and posted a YouTube video to remind them about proper decorum at games. In October, the Zoo found itself in hot water again when too many people tried to crowd into the stadium section at the homecoming game. Hundreds were turned away. One student began fighting with an officer, and police subdued him with a Taser.

Does this article mean to suggest that a different group of students, in equal numbers and under equally claustrophobic conditions, would have responded differently? That UA students somehow are more inclined to act irrationally in sardine-style crowding conditions than other schools? Not surprisingly the basketball games, although more popular, had no such mad rush because seats were reserved ahead of time. If such a system were implemented for football, fans would probably act as normal as any other student section; which is to say, slightly more rowdy than average.

Meanwhile, doesn’t the Stanford example miss the point? Swearing in sports is as old as sports itself -your author can attest to chanting ‘bullshit’ at referees since around the age of eight. The far more damning event was the water bottle thrown on the court during the USC basketball, which forced interim Coach Kevin O’Neill to take a microphone and pause the game to chastise the students.

As a solution, respected intellectual and public figure Ernest Calderon actually offered this as a solution:

Still, Ernest Calderón, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, said this week he still has concerns about the Zona Zoo, calling for the athletic department to get a better handle on “Animal House-like behavior.” He also suggested the group’s name be changed. “If we’re calling it the Zona Zoo, are we inviting rowdy behavior?” he said.

By this logic, contra Glenn Beck, President Obama must be attempting to impose some sort of revanchist White Russia, what with the proliferation of “czars” under his administration. Perhaps we could call this new section ‘The Arizona Completely-PC Social Justice League’. The Zona Lovers? Wilbur’s Wobblies?

So in the end, what is the point of this convoluted exercise?

Even so, the Playboy ranking and some incidents have put UA, often in the news for its scientific breakthroughs, in an unflattering light. A “party school” tag can hurt a university’s reputation among student prospects and parents.

To contrast, here is a list of some of the schools listed in the Playboy ranking (with ranking in parentheses):

  • University of Miami, FL (1)
  • University of Texas – Austin (2)
  • University of Florida (4)
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison (6)
  • University of Georgia (7)
  • University of Iowa (9)
  • Pennsylvania State (13)
  • Rollins College (17)
  • Ohio University (18)
  • Indiana University (24)

What do these schools have in common? They all excel at academics as well. Florida’s 94 percent retention rate has long been lusted after the UA. Texas, Wisconsin, and Indiana are routinely mentioned in the same breath as Berkeley, Michigan, and Virginia. The Miami Hurricane took exactly the right tack in showing their pride at their Playboy poll championship:

If you haven’t already heard, Playboy Magazine ranked the University of Miami the best party school in the country.Many would assume that our academic standards would shrivel under the pressure of living up to this reputation, but the opposite is true. Our national academic ranking has drastically improved over the past 10 years. The only thing left to complain about is football (and basketball, the economy, parking…).

With academics on the rise, recruits must meet certain requirements in order to play for our team. The frustration surrounding the football squad is sometimes blamed on, among other things, this higher standard. Maybe if we slacked off a little bit, we would win another national championship.

This idea is clearly a fallacy. Our party ranking has consistently gone up with our academics, according to Playboy, so why the hell would this affect our success on the field? If we can get boozed up six nights a week and pull off As, we should be able to win games and get As.

We’ve already shown that when it comes to law schools, there’s absolutely no correlation between partying and academic achievement. While an appropriate sample (i.e. complete top-bottom rankings) doesn’t exist for undergraduate education, there’s reason to believe that a similar non-correlation would hold.

The real story, then, is not that the Dean Thompson is playing Xerxes to UA’s Greek Life, but that admissions standards are stagnant. The bigger issue is not that kids are getting more drinking violations for UAPD, but that more violations are being given. While an indeterminate number of professors feel that they exist in a post-Insurrection sort of existence, the bigger issue for university administrators is the name of the student section. Sic vita academia.

Ouroboros watch: Daisy the cow edition

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 31 August 2009

Cow, on car

It becomes apparent, from this enjoyable dig through the Wildcat vault, that some things never, ever change:

The pages of the Wildcat in those days featured Young Republicans accusing the Campus Democrats of socialism, angry letter writers charging the Wildcat with dropping the ball on a news story and a good, old-fashioned ASUA election scandal.

. . .

In the same issue, the Wildcat reported that a cow named Daisy from the UA’s Dairy Research Center nearly won the election for Homecoming queen as a write-in candidate and protest against ASUA and dirty campaign tactics. However, the student government’s elections chairman refused to count the ballots.

The Desert Lamp would like to preemptively announce its endorsement of all bovine candidates, in all elections, ever. Same goes for ostriches.

For other dispatches on Man’s cyclical fate, read here, here, and here. Image courtesy of the Flickr Commons.

Fan cans gone wild

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 28 August 2009
I suddenly feel a strange urge to drink from a plastic handle. (Accessed from http://goodbadandugly2.wordpress.com/)

I suddenly feel a strange urge to take a double-shot. (Accessed from http://goodbadandugly2.wordpress.com/)

A once quirky tale of beer cans is now a somewhat big story, and even the luminaries at the Cato Institute have taken the time to fire a broadside at the FTC.

The coverage continues here in Tucson as well. We appreciate the dap from Becky Pallack, who is taking over for Aaron Mackey at the Star‘s “Campus Correspondent” blog. Somehow we missed it in our compilation of UA blogs, but it’s definitely worth adding to the old ‘roll. As a real journalist, she actually went ahead and contacted the local Anheuser-Busch distributor, who said that there would be no fan cans in Tucson for “business reasons.”

The good – well, obvious – news here is that these cans are not at all going to change drinking habits that much. Since almost no one takes to time to study the cans of the cheap beer that they’re drinking, this is definitely a niche market. Armchair market analysis sez that this would sell best in the South, with its strong tailgate tradition and school pride. The somewhat sad news is that this is an implicit statement on the state of UA fandom – UA nation doesn’t demonstrate enough school pride to justify its own themed cans.

Meanwhile, Ben Kalafut describes this site as (I quote out of context), “[an] application of a bit of tequila to the flickering wick.” With his permission, we’ll be adapting this line as a de facto statement of purpose. At any rate, Ben not only likes the idea, but would take it one step further:

They should embrace it and even go one farther: license the “A” logo or the silly Wildcat thing, and charge a per-can royalty.

I’m guessing that the Bud Light drinkers, especially the ones who’d be more inclined to drink it because of the logo, overlap considerably with those who moan–and hop buses to the Capitol en masse to moan–about tuition fee increases (how dare they charge me more for this private good?) even as the State faces extreme shortfalls. I’m fairly certain they’re also the ones who shout “ow!” at random on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, who blast stereos from their cars, who pile five at a time into trucks and harass pedestrians, and who generally lower both the University’s prestige and, more importantly, the quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood by others.

Bud Light licensing, like a surcharge for the most obnoxious students. Fair enough, right?

Ben’s tongue seems to be at least partly in his cheek, but it sounds rather reasonable if the university stipulates that all funds derived from such licensing will go to alcohol prevention programs, alcoholism recovery programs, etc. The basic problem that underlies this entire discussion is the base assumption on the part of university officials that striving for an alcohol-free student body is possible and worth striving for. For a group of academics supposedly committed to “community outreach,” this a surprisingly disappointingly blinkered and uninformed view of history, culture, and human nature.

If instead, university officials accepted the young people enjoy, and will continue to enjoy, the consumption of alcohol, they could advocate policies that might actually have an impact on the well-being of their students. They would advocate for something like the Stony Brook’s medical amnesty program, which provides incentives for providing care to sick underage drinkers, rather than worrying about the legal trouble that they might get in. They would advocate for lowering the drinking age, removing the incentive for underclassmen to binge drink and bringing the current shadow economy of sub-21 drinking to the light (and removing entirely the need for such an amnesty program).

In the spirit of going one further, I’ll ask: why shouldn’t the UA get into the alcohol business, to provide a nice “Eller IPA” to pour into that Arizona stein you got for graduation? For liquor, “Wilbur Water” has a definite ring to it – and perhaps “Wilma Water” would serve as the Malibu equivalent. The Sage & Silver would be the scotch you drink with your uncles. In certain scenarios, students would opt for the UA’s alcohol over other options, providing the university with revenue that would otherwise go to InBev or A-B. Would university officials really argue that it’s better for that money to go outside of the school?

That being said, this will happen at around the same time that “Zona Smokes” (Inhale the Saguaro!) are marketed behind the counter of the U-Mart. But this proposal is no more insane than the current stance of the University, which denies the reality of collegiate drinking in favor of “Just Say No” pabulum that rings falsely in the ears of just about any informed student. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.

FTC won’t let me drink pee

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 25 August 2009

The only thing worse than being on the ASUA beat is being on the Bud Light beat, but the fact that the federal government is involved in the Fan Can Affair bears a follow-up post. The story [$], from the Journal:

A Federal Trade Commission attorney criticized a controversial Anheuser-Busch InBev NV marketing campaign that features Bud Light cans decorated with college-team colors, urging the brewer to drop any plans for similar promotions.

Janet Evans, a senior FTC attorney who oversees alcohol advertising, says the federal agency has “grave concern” that the campaign could encourage underage and binge drinking on college campuses. Dozens of schools have protested the promotion, with some threatening legal action over trademark issues.

“This does not appear to be responsible activity,” Ms. Evans said in an interview Monday. “We’re looking at this closely. We’ve talked to the company and expressed our concerns.”

In reverse:

1. Is the state of trade so comfortable at this juncture that the FTC has time to concern itself with the advertising campaigns of beer cans?

2. How much “responsibility” does Anheuser-Busch owe to the federal government? Should all advertising campaigns in the future be cleared in advance by Ms. Evans?

3. Do you mean to suggest that underage and binge drinking at universities could be “encouraged” to any greater degree than they are currently, due in no small part to current standing highway funding regulations?

4. If such ties encourage drinking, does the FTC plan to crack down on the shot glasses, martini glasses, shakers, and other “drug paraphernalia” that is presently marketed by the universities protesting these cans?

5. How can you possibly possess the authority to tell companies what colors they can and cannot use for their products? Do you mean to suggest that other institutions with “colors” can restrict the unauthorized sale of products with similar colors in a certain area? If so, how far does this range extend? Can blue-red cans be sold in Phoenix? Mesa? Oro Valley?

6. Seeing how you represent a division of the central government of the United States of America, what do you plan to do about the alcoholic products that knowingly use patriotic imagery to encourage underage, impressionable Americans to break the law?

Actually looking at the cans helps to illustrate the absurdity of the argument:

Fan Cans

Now, look, I guess a UConn or LSU fan could get inspired by this. Maybe. It really does tie the whole tailgate decor together. Yet it’s rather dubious to draw the conclusion that such a can gives the impression that universities are encouraging drinking. Many Arizona fans wear colored t-shirts that read, “ASU Sucks,” but no one actually draws the conclusion that, “‘ASU sucks’ must be the official position of the university. If it weren’t, why would the message be emblazoned with the school’s colors.”

Yet even if Anheuser-Busch went so far as to slap on a block “A” and a picture of Wilbur shotgunning a beer, would this really encourage students who weren’t previously drinking to try? Are these students, whom university presidents cannot stop prizing as “the future,” rendered automatons by university colors?

According to most schools, yes:

Officials at the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Colorado, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, Boston College and New York’s Stony Brook University each said they are protesting the campaign. “It’s sending a message to students that maybe even the college is endorsing drinking,” said Jenny Hwang, an associate dean at Stony Brook.

Gosh, where would Stony Brook students get the idea that the college is actively encouraging drinking? Maybe, even, they are:

Stony Brook University’s Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, also known as “Wolfstock,” is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 17–18, and will offer alumni, students, faculty, staff, and the local community an opportunity to reconnect with each other and celebrate an institution on the rise–nationally and internationally. The event is presented in part by the Stony Brook Alumni Association, in cooperation with University Advancement, Student Affairs, Athletics, and the Office of the President.

. . .

Reunion Reception
7:00–9:00 pm
Charles B. Wang Center
Registration Fee: $35.00 per person (adults only). ) Includes dinner buffet, soft drinks, wine and beer, live music, and the University Expo

. . .

Beer Garden (Proper identification required)
For an additional $5 per person (with purchase of a buffet ticket), guests 21 and older are invited to the Beer Garden, generously sponsored by Clare Rose. Taste the newly-released Bud American Ale or try traditional favorites including Boddington’s English Crème Ale, Shock Top Belgian Style Wheat, or Murphy’s Irish Red Ale. (Note: Beer Garden tickets are not sold without the purchase of a Tailgate buffet ticket.)

. . .

University Café
Open 5:00 pm–11:00 pm
(Must be 21 yrs. and older)
Join your friends, fellow alums, and fans for a post-game (sure to be) celebration drink.
Free admission. Cash bar.

Even worse than that, Stony Brook gives amnesty to those dirty, rotten illegal drinkers:

Members of the Associated Student Government said NU has recently undergone efforts to evaluate its alcohol policy, specifically in regards to a medical amnesty program. ASG Student Life Director Matthew Bellassai said alcohol amnesty is an important measure to the NU student body.

“How everybody treated this topic – both ASG presidential candidates had it on their platform – so it’s obviously a big issue students care about,” the Weinberg freshman said.

Though Stony Brook does not have an official alcohol amnesty policy, people who call emergency services don’t get into trouble with the university. Students who receive medical treatment will talk to an adviser, but there will be no impact on their academic career, Hwang said.

Dean Hwang would no doubt protest, but providing this safety net of services implicitly encourages drinking. Is it so hard for a university figure to say, “Drinking is a really enjoyable activity, insofar as you don’t do it to excess”?

Like many “stands,” this amounts to little more than posturing from administrators who want to look “tough on crime,” even as underage drinking continues unabated. This in of itself is not a bad thing – the vast majority of underage drinkers are able to drink responsibility, in spite of the incentives from a federal level that encourage to do otherwise. Props go out to Louisiana State and Texas-Austin, the schools that refused to engage in such grandstanding.

Don’t go green – go Orange.

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 25 August 2009

CatTran

So, Parking & Transportation loves them some sustainability – goes down real smooth a tall glass of Budweiser. Yet a non-editorial editorial from the Star included this somewhat astonishing tidbit:

The university has 16,767 parking spaces in around [sic] the main campus and an additional 1,515 at the Health Sciences Center. The total comes to nearly one space for every two workers and students.

With this many spots, surely the green PTS would have a policy of maintaining the current number of spots, if not reducing them and turning old lots into People’s Gardens. As ABOR made clear last fall, however, this was not the case:

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved the 2010-12 capital improvement plans for the state’s universities Friday, including the University of Arizona’s request to spend $30 million on a new parking structure.

While overall spots dropped (the Wildcat link is broken for now), would it have so horrible to use the $30 million elsewhere and – horror beyond horrors! – allow the student/employee per spot ratio rise to three? Or four?

In striving for sustainability, PTS has implemented, among other things, a new Hertz rental program. Judging by their Twitter feed, PTS is really, really excited about it, as they should be – it’s a great option for a good number of students, at a more affordable rate than seemed possible. Yet the program, for all its merits, fails entirely to address the largest group of car-using students – commuters.

The commuter problem is compounded at the UA by several factors. The campus is relatively small and enclosed, resulting in less property that directly abuts campus. Further, the campus is cordoned off by heavy traffic roads, further dividing students. Tucson itself is a sprawling city in comparison to others, and as a result houses are even further away than they might have been elsewhere. And yes, walking or biking in the Tucson heat sucks, dry though it may be.

The CatTran currently only provides two basic services: rides to garages, and rides around campus. Curiously enough, neither of these really cuts down on emissions – the former adds bus emissions to the emissions from the cars that drove to the garages, while the latter provides for routes that are generally walkable (if unpleasant). As a result, the vast majority of CatTran rides are underutilized.

The Orange line stands as a notable exception. Yes, its ultimate destination are parking lots on Ft. Lowell, but along the way the route has several spots along Mountain. These stops often include bus shelters. Unlike its peers, the Orange Line appeals directly to students in the neighborhood who use the bus primarily as a way to get to campus.

The CatTran system is the implement through commuters can find a genuine alternative to driving everyday. Students who feel uneasy about using the SunTran rarely feel the same way about the CatTran. Routes to garages and lots could be rerouted in the style of the Orange Line, passing through and stopping in student neighborhoods.

How to fund such a program? Start by ending the SunTran subsidy, and using the money for the UA’s own transit. Get rid of greenwashing gimmicks like “bio-diesel golf carts.” Reduce the funds allocated to SafeRide, in proportion to the reduction in services required as a result. Rather than simply selling spots by zone, host live auctions for spots, increasing both the optimality of spot allocation and funds received. One could even sell off off the entire PTS piecemeal, using some of the funds for a stand-alone system. In fact, you could really do it up and actually sell CatTran passes to off-campus students – although I freely admit to not knowing what such a pass would even cost. CatTran buses could be chartered – as a tour bus for visiting groups, and as a party bus for Greek and non-Greek life.

The list goes on – ideas, after all, are easy. Unfortunately, PTS’s latest innovation for the shuttle is the Green Line, which essentially encircles the north end of Campus.

Your afternoon hallucination comes courtesy of arizona.edu

Real Cans of Genius?

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 21 August 2009
We only shop because of the name.

We only shop because of the name.

Agitated by the color clash between your beer can and your favorite team? Distressed that you can’t make everything in your life cardinal red and navy blue? Fear not, Friends of Button – the quasi-free market works in astounding ways:

Dozens of colleges are up in arms over a new Anheuser-Busch marketing campaign that features Bud Light beer cans emblazoned with local schools’ team colors.

The Bud Light promotion, which involves 27 different color combinations, started rolling out this month. Purple-and-gold cans are being sold near the campus of Louisiana State University, and red-and-gold containers near Iowa State University.

“Show your true colors with Bud Light,” the company says, according to copies of internal marketing materials obtained by colleges. “This year, only Bud Light is delivering superior drinkability in 12-ounce cans that were made for gameday.”

There was no mention of either the UA or ASU in the press, but the article’s emphasis on “color combinations” seems to indicate that that they could easily be interchanged across the country –  the UA could share a scheme with Kansas or Ole Miss, and it would be surprising from a marketing standpoint if one of the schemes wasn’t the maroon/yellow shared by both ASU and USC.

Yet the story here isn’t the new lipstick on the old pig, but the typical squeamishness with which university apparatchiks seem obligated to express:

Bruce Siegal, general counsel of the Collegiate Licensing Co., which represents about 200 colleges, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and other school-sports organizations, says his company complained to Anheuser-Busch about potential trademark violations after being notified about the campaign.

At least 25 schools have formally asked Anheuser-Busch to drop the campaign near their campuses, Mr. Siegal says. In recent letters, the University of Michigan’s lawyers threatened legal action for alleged trademark infringement, demanding that Anheuser-Busch not sell the “maize and blue” cans in the “entire state.” The University of Colorado, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University and Boston College have also told the company to stop distribution near their campuses, citing trademark issues and concern about student alcohol use.

Samuel L. Stanley, president of New York’s Stony Brook University and a medical doctor, also objected. In a letter to Anheuser-Busch, he called the campaign “categorically unacceptable.” Stony Brook recently launched a national program called Red Watch Band, which seeks to harness school pride and “positive peer pressure” to discourage heavy drinking. The school says it was motivated by the death of a professor’s son from alcohol poisoning in 2008, when he was a freshman at Northwestern University.

LSU Bud Light Fan Can

An example of the LSU 'fan can.'

The universities’ first – and only possibly tenable complaint – is that of trademark issues. Without the official filings or any sort of legal training, it’s hard to say how meritorious this argument is. It’s a rather interesting issue to think about, and raises enough questions to drive a full day’s seminar. How close can a company get to the official hues before stepping over the line? Can the University of Michigan really tell a beer company that use of a yellow/blue theme (and yes, fellow Wolverines, I can assure that Anheuser-Busch will not bother making the cans properly maize) is forbidden in the entire state? And does this mean that Cerveza Caguama should be banned?

Of course, as President Stanley’s quote makes apparent, the universities aren’t really interested in these kinds of issues – they only serve as a means by which to fight the never-ending War on Drugs on Campus. Yet there’s a curious logical leap in their argument, in the style of the Underpants Gnomes:

1. Anheuser-Busch makes university-color-themed beer cans.
2. ????
3. More drunk college kids!

It’s certainly arguable the college students might drink more Bud Light with respect to other light beers – in fact, that’s the very fact that A-B is betting on being true. Far more tenuous is the argument that college students, who previously drank infrequently  (if they’re over 21) or not at all (sub-21), will suddenly be passing out the streets Poe-style because the can matches their t-shirt.

Weirder still, the schools argue that students will buy such fan cans because they feel that the school has somehow endorsed it. This is the more selfish view: our students will do what they do – but when they do, our hands are clean. Yet to the best of my knowledge these schools have yet to crack down on unofficial t-shirts with very official colors, shirts whose messages are far more in conflict with the PR department (‘Puck Fenn State’ and ‘Ohio Sucks’ are childhood favorites). Meanwhile, the UA’s own bookstore (and, in all likelihood, every major college bookstore outside the state of Utah) freely sells beer mugs and shot glasses – and, horror upon horrors, they don’t even check IDs!

Most people have a sane approach to the matter: college students do crazy things, and the university administration has nothing to do with it. They don’t drink because President Shelton told them to (or not to), but because a fortuitous intersection of budding adulthood and minimized responsibilities allows them to.

At any rate, this hopefully won’t be an issue at the UA. After all, not only has University of Arizona Liquors stood proud and unassociated with the school since 1977, but it was the Bud Light division of Anheuser-Busch that sponsored the Wildcats’ Vegas Bowl tailgate.

There ain’t no such thing as a free Friday party without alcohol, either.

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 11 August 2009

Soviet Anti-Alcohol - "Het!"Among the smorgasbord of programs approved for funded from the now $80 per-year Student Services Fee was “Friday Night Live,” a CSIL program that promised to bring “an alcohol free environment with opportunities for students to gain experiences in programming, leadership development, and responsible social interaction.” For this service, students will pay a total of $25,600. Except, according to the Facebook group, you like totally didn’t!

Something new that will be happening this year is called Friday Night Live! These will be Friday night events that happen each month in the Student Union and on the mall. They’ll have free food, music, prizes, entertainment and tons more!

. . .
The first FNL will be on the Friday right before classes start (August 21). It’ll be a chance to meet other students, eat free food, and have fun before the semester starts. Don’t miss out! [emphasis added – EML]

Err, no. Again – the food and entertainment is provided from the Student Services Fee, which costs students $80 per academic year. This is the antithesis of free. Further, the Fee requires that the “Student Services Fee logo must be used in all related materials” – however, no such indication of SSF funding can be found anywhere on the Facebook site. Perhaps, though, this requirement has all the force of an election code; which is to say, none.

To reiterate and elaborate on what we said earlier: there’s no reason that students should be forced to pay for this. Asked to justify their proposal from priorities in the SSF survey, CSIL could cite only two. The first, the demand for “health and wellness programs and initiatives,” is fairly specious. Never mind that drinking in moderation is in fact beneficial for one’s health* – it would be surprising if the food were a strong divergence from the usual college food pyramid, in all likelihood pizza and pop in this case. “Wellness” is subjective enough as to be meaningless – those whose ‘wellness’ is improved by FNL will certainly be outweighed by those who would’ve preferred to buy an eighth or a fifth and ‘get well’, as it were. The second justification, “Increased faculty/student program opportunities,” referred to faculty-student interaction outside of the classroom. In the latest SSF survey, this student “priority” ranked fourth from last, just ahead of social justice, ‘various campus populations,’ and parent/family resources (the latter two of which were certainly not supported due to their representing of a minority group, i.e. “I’m not a parent, so why should I pay for such services?”). As the survey’s executive summary put it,

• The three following initiatives were rated as particularly unimportant to students, with over half of respondents indicating that this initiative was slightly important or not important:
o Increased Faculty-Student programs and opportunities (52.03%)

Yet even if providing students who like their parties dry as the desert is an essential student priority, there’s the elided fact that CSIL has already found funds to host a late-night event with no fee money involved, a fact they alluded to in their proposal. CSIL could also move funds from the ever-unpopular “social justice” programs to these apparently more necessary ones. But even if they love their dear social justice too much to part ways, they could fund FNL with a “cover charge” – think of it as a “user fee” for a good time. There are five scheduled events, leading to a per-event cost of $25,600. In its descriptive proposal [PDF], CSIL said,

The number of students impacted will vary.  The hope is to begin with having 200-300 individuals participate on a regular basis.  In December we hosted a late night event and had approximately 200 students in attendance, with 75-100 staying until at least 1:00am.  If given the opportunity to grow the program, we foresee an increase in the number of participants.  Some institutions have over 1000 students attend each late night event and we hope to create such a community at The University of Arizona.

So let’s say that such a community is established, and 1,000 students attend. That’s a $6 cover charge – hardly out of line. “But Evan, that’s pretty rosy. If only 200 students show up, they’d have to each pay $128.” Exactly – which means that, in typical bureaucratic fashion, way too much money is being thrown at this program. If this turns out to be the case, students at the UA are forking over $128 in services to each and every student who feels that they are entitled to a party with no alcohol allowed. Meanwhile, the rest of us have gotten along just fine paying our $5 cover charge at the door.

* – Of course, Science sez that such benefits only can be accrued the exact moment that one turns 21 years of age (except that the citizens in some states are so genetically composed that the effects do not take place until 3:00 AM, or even later. Ask your doctor). Up until then, the Demon Likker can only rot your liver out and give you sarcomas.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Tam Sadek