Campus Informer, April 9, 2007 Ice-pick-wielding parents, dirty elections, and more news from schools around the world.
April 9, 2007
Brits get boozed
Apparently American universities aren't the only ones with out-of-control alcohol problems. Because of widespread alcohol-induced vomiting on campus, members of the janitorial staff at Cambridge's Gonville and Caius College are now being vaccinated for Hepatitis B, a potentially deadly liver disease. Frequent plumbing problems caused by an abundance of post-partying sickness led to the new policy. Such messes must "be cleared up by contract cleaners who have been trained and have had a Hepatitis B injection," wrote union president Tor Garnett in an email to students.
A cause for the overflow of vomit has been identified--freshmen. According to Garnett, "the majority of [the vomit] is due to first-years drinking more than their limit." The Cambridge Evening News points specifically to pennying, a drinking game "in which students drop coins in a glass then knock drinks back in one to retrieve them" as a major cause of "rowdy and drunken behaviour [funny British spelling in original]." So much for theories that lowering the legal drinking age leads to responsible alcohol consumption. It looks like freshmen will be freshmen regardless.
College election takes cues from Karl Rove
State University New York, Stony Brook
During student government election season, there's never a shortage of underhanded political tricks on display at universities across the country. This spring, we turn to SUNY Stony Brook for a stunning example of dirty campaigning.
Undergraduate Student Government President Romual Jean-Baptiste was impeached for planting fake campaign flyers that appeared to come from his opponent, USG rep Joseph Antonelli. Many of the posters featured Jean-Baptiste's picture next to a chimpanzee, leading the USG to suspect that Jean-Baptiste tried to frame his opponent for a hate crime. According to the Stony Brook Statesman, "it was the opinion of the Senate that these posters were used in a malicious manner to discredit Antonelli and to bring possible physical harm and racial backlash unto him."
The USG also impeached Junior Class Representative Michael Cohen, who was appointed mid-year by Jean-Baptiste and played the role of the classic crony. Following Jean-Baptiste's orders, Cohen was caught on surveillance camera posting the questionable flyers. An anonymous USG member was allegedly threatened by Cohen, who approached him and said "It's a good thing we're both in USG 'cause if I saw you outside I would demolish you and break your f---ing neck." Rounding out a glowing report, Vice President of Academic Affairs Chinelo Onochie questioned Cohen's qualifications, saying that "No one that stupid should be able to hold office." If only the same standard could be applied to national political scandals.
Safe sex gets too expensive for college students
Tuition rates aren't the only college costs on the rise--a federal provision taking effect this year is dramatically raising the price of prescription birth control for college students. According to Inside Higher Education, effects vary at different institutions, but prices for brand-name birth control at colleges are going from around $10 per month to as much as $50 per month.
The shift is an unintentional result of changes in reimbursement rules for Medicare in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Pharmaceutical companies must now charge university health clinics standard prices rather than the nominal prices they paid before the legislation was enacted. Standard prices are usually twice or three times as high as nominal prices. "We are keeping our eyes and ears open about correcting this legislatively," said Mary Hoban, program director of the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment. "However, we hope that we can take care of this in a regulatory fashion." The association sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services petitioning for colleges to return to their nominal price status.
In the meantime, students on campuses across the country are unhappy with both the personal and political ramifications of the DRA. "Access to contraceptives should not be a luxury only some can afford. It should not be a symptom of the gap between the haves and have-nots in today's society," wrote student Carolyn Smith in the University of Wisconsin Badger Herald. "And unwanted pregnancies cost taxpayers far more than a program that would provide contraceptives at a reduced price."
Librarians gone wild
We know that librarians are all about free speech, but who knew they'd fight so hard for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? In an unannounced policy change, SI withheld its 2007 swimsuit issue from libraries and schools across the country. SI pinned responsibility for the policy shift back on recipient institutions. Spokesman Rick McCabe said that the magazine had "received feedback from some of those institutions saying it wouldn't be an acceptable thing for them to have or to share with their constituents." Rather than dealing with such complaints individually, SI blocked the issue from all academic, public, and school libraries.
Naturally, librarians across the country are upset that the SI is ripping them off by withholding an issue, and further for trying to decide what content belongs in their libraries. Librarian discussion boards are full of angry commentary on the topic. "It seems to me that if one has a subscription to a title, all issues for that subscription period should be sent," wrote Lynne Weaver of Randolph-Macon Woman's College. "It is up to the recipient to decide what to do with the issue once it is received." Others are more explicit about their qualms: if subscribers can decide that some content is inappropriate for readers, suggests Jeanette Skwor of UW-Green Bay, can they request "that the next issue not be sent to your neighbor because he has an unnatural interest in Tiger Woods, who you hear is going to be on the cover?"
When helicopter parents attack
Overbearing helicopter parents (according to Wikipedia, "a person who pays extremely close attention to his or her child or children, particularly at educational institutions") are annoying. Helicopter parents armed and ready to attack on behalf of their offspring are a completely different category of crazy. At Texas College in Tyler, Texas, one mother decided to take her daughter's social life into her own hands.
According to police reports, Judy Moore Smith visited the Texas campus, upset that her daughter, Laprince Moore, was being harassed by fellow students. Rather than handling the matter calmly, Smith stormed the president's office. "The woman would not communicate," said President Billy C. Hawkins. "She literally cursed out everyone in my office."
After Smith's verbal pyrotechnics, Moore pointed out a particular student with whom she'd had trouble, and an argument developed. A student who works part time as a campus security officer tried to calm Smith, but that's when she pulled an ice pick out of her purse. The security officer wrestled the ice pick away from Smith, receiving a cut on his hand in the process. Smith bit another student who tried to intervene on the arm.
Smith was "out of control," said Hawkins. "She was looking to fight our students and disrupt our education." Moore was arrested for interfering with a peace officer, and Smith was charged with aggravated assault. Any parents reading should be warned that while calling your college student 20 times a week might get results, beating up their classmates will not.