|By Thinkingoutloud (Thinkingoutloud) on Sunday, October 10, 2004 - 12:29 am: Edit|
"Consultants who visited Williams College this week to evaluate the school's alcohol culture concluded that fewer students drink on campus than has been the perception."
|By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, October 10, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit|
Story missed the point. The campus perception is that EVERYONE drinks. And that one of the jobs of the consultants is to make folks aware that 20% of the student body doesn't drink at all, and probably 40% of the student body drinks responsible. Leaving 40% heavy or binge drinkers, among the highest rates among liberal arts colleges in the nation.
The headline should have been "less drinking than students thought." (This, by the way, is true on virtually every heavy dirnking campus, which is why social marketing campaigns - pointing out precisely how many do and how many don't - works.)
|By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, October 10, 2004 - 09:06 pm: Edit|
My daughter and her Williams friend compared college notes today. The Williams friend described the drinking at Williams as "crazy".
|By Nceph (Nceph) on Monday, October 11, 2004 - 09:42 am: Edit|
Interesteddad - I'm curious what she meant by "crazy" and whether her perception might have been somewhat different if she had been a moderate/responsible drinker, rather than a complete non-drinker (I think that's what you reported on the Swarthmore site). Reports of mid-week alcohol? Of the girls in her entry, how many would she consider binge drinkers? And, not to compromise her anonymity on this board, but I was wondering what dorm she's in.
Mini - I know you've been at the heart of most of the discussions about binge drinking and alcohol abuse at Williams, and you seem to be one of the most knowledgeable. You state that Williams has a binge drinking rate higher than most other LACs. How do you think it compares to the bigger schools like MIT, Yale or Brown? Do you think you're harder on Williams than you might otherwise be if you weren't an alumnus?
As a Williams alumna, I have several concerns about the incidence of binge drinking. It makes me worry about the direction the school is taking and whether it is becoming a far different institution than it was roughly 25 years ago. There were certainly binge drinker types way back then, even if they weren't drinking in quite that style, and I had very little to do with them. I wonder if the percentage of that type of student is still about the same but their drinking is more out of control.
If kids are turning down Williams because of the alcohol situation there (as someone suggested earlier), where are they opting to go instead? Is the college losing faculty because of the situation?
My other concern is that as legacies, my kids probably have a better chance of getting in to Williams than they do to other comparable schools, and I really want to feel good about sending them there, if they should end up there. We're more than a year away from making any decisions, so we're just watching and listening and asking lots of questions for now.
|By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, October 11, 2004 - 11:19 am: Edit|
>> I'm curious what she meant by "crazy"
I don't know. I was only getting reports second hand after asking my D how her friend likes Williams. The response was, "she likes it a lot, but she says the drinking there is 'crazy'."
Her friend is not the judgemental type so I would guess that it was probably just a comment on the amount and frequency of drinking that she sees among 30 of the 32 freshmen in her dorm entry. I know from talking to her and her parents at some functions last year that they did not have a "pollyanna" view of college -- they expected college kids to drink and stuff.
>> I wonder if the percentage of that type of student is still about the same but their drinking is more out of control.
I tried every rationalization I could when my wife telling me that Williams has turned into a jock/party school. But, at a certain point, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. We would not be seeing weekly features in the newspaper, the closing of the health center, and special Trustees meetings on the "alcohol problem" if the college didn't perceive a problem.
I think Mini has it exactly right on one score: each college has a "culture" that is passed on to the entering freshmen as "expected behavior". This culture influences the kids who choose to entroll there AND their behavior norms after they arrive. The culture of Williams these days includes an expectation of heavy alcohol consumption.
I think it's fair to say that by the time a school makes the guidebooks with "hard partying" or "alcohol is the focus of social activities" descriptions, there's probably a reason. Sports and booze are now part of the standard guidebook blurbs of the social life at Williams.
Do I think Williams is worse than some other elite New England schools? No. There are some others that have a well-established drinking culture. I doubt that Williams has more drinking than Dartmouth, for example. I do think being an alum colors my view. I would rather that Williams be known for its great academics rather than its football team and binge drinking.
|By Nceph (Nceph) on Monday, October 11, 2004 - 11:44 am: Edit|
Well, I guess it just makes me really sad to hear about the direction the school seems to be heading. There are so many things that appeal to my daughter about the school, like the tutorials, the math department, the winter study program, the Berkshire Symphony, the a capella groups, but I'm afraid it just sounds like the negatives are mounting. I plan to attend my reunion next June and will be asking questions then, especially of alumni who have children at Williams, but I don't expect to hear much criticism, certainly nothing official. I do think it's natural and understandable for people to be defensive and protective of their choices -- especially when they're such big investments.
|By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, October 11, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit|
Williams was never a first choice for my daughter (location being the big negative); however, she visited campus twice, submitted her application, and would have been happy to go to Williams. I'm not pleased about the direction of the school, but I would have been happy had my daughter ended up there. It's still a great school and there are still plenty of kids who are not involved in the drinking culture.
If it were a clean sheet of paper, I would probably recommend Williams specifically for someone interested in being an Art History major or playing varsity sports.
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