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Kids Today

We do our best to avoid an excessive amount of navel-gazing here at EphBlog. Blog posts should, in general, be about “all things Eph” and not “all things EphBlog”. But, on occasion, there is nothing to be done but to consider our own navels.

Only read further if you would like to join us.

Drew writes:

Furthermore, being 15 years removed from Williams, where did you gain the knowledge to make statements such as “Why is it that the President’s job has become more complex/challenging at a faster rate than the job of economics professor? Answer: It hasn’t.”

He also notes that:

With regard to my unanswered question and Mike’s comment, it often amazes me, and others I have spoken with, the number of statments and assertions you make about Williams, that may have been true about Williams 15 years ago but reflect a true ignorance of the way Williams exists today.

This is not a slam since I am sure you mean well and I wouldn’t expect an old alum to have a real understanding of what goes on at Williams today unless you have spent a lot of time on campus recently, which is what prompted my question initially.

I am sure that I, too, will loose touch with the pulse of campus life within a short period of time, too; it’s natural and to be expected.

There is an adorable if sometimes annoying tendency for younger Ephs to imagine that no one who is not actually living in Carter House right now can possibly imagine what life at Williams is like or offer reasoned commentary on what the College is or should be.

Drew, Mike Needham and (of course!) Aidan are among the most adorable young Ephs that I know.


In all seriousness, it is a fair question to ask — of anyone on any topic — why should I believe that what you are saying is true? So, why should Drew believe that anything I — or any other “old alum” — have to say about Williams is true? There are several issues here, I would like to unpack them one by one.

1) Are most of the factual statements that I make about Williams true? I believe that they are. (I thank Mike for correcting an counter-example to this statement.) When I write that Morty is paid X or that the College has donated Y to the local high school or that student Z is on trial for rape, I try my best to get the facts correct. When I get the facts wrong, I correct my mistake as soon as possible. Indeed, I would wager that Drew can not find more than 3 uncorrected factual mistakes in all my writing at EphBlog.

2) Are most of the conjectures/estimates/guesses that I make about life at Williams now or in the past reasonable? I like to think that they are, but your mileage may vary. I am curious, to use Mike’s example, about how many member of his class the typical senior knows on graduation day. My guess would be that it is a number like 125-225 and that this number is much higher than it was in the 1980’s and that the main reason for this increase is the change in the housing system.

I could easily be wrong about one, two or all three of these claims. But it is somewhat asinine to assert that these statements represent “true ignorance of the way Williams exists today” while not telling me — and the other readers of EphBlog — what the right answers are. So, I am ready to believe that I am ignorant about topics like social networks at Williams today. Indeed, I gladly confess my ignorance. Still, I think that, as these particular points come up, the constructive response is to correct me. To write: “No, David, the typical senior at Williams actually knows more like 50 (or 400 or whatever) of her classmates.”

I am ignorant about all too many aspects of life at Williams both currently (What the heck is Contradancing?) and in the past. But, unless you have specific examples where I incorrectly asserted — rather then guessed, estimated, conjectured or supposed — that X is true about Williams today, I think that my level of ignorance is clear to every reader, even those who or even further removed from Williamstown then I am.

3) Now there is a difference, of course, between factual claims about Williams as it is and policy disputes. I have lots of opinions about things that would, if changed, make Williams better off. I believe that Williams First Years should learn The Mountains. I think that Senior theses should be posted on-line. I argue that excellent teaching at Williams should be rewarded with cash prizes. I speculate on strategies for reducing sexual assault on campus. I believe that the College should not be making large cash donations to other non-profits. I think that the JA Selection Committee should be larger. And on and on.

As in any question of policy, there are two things on which we might disagree. First, we might differ on what the effect of these policies would actually be. Second, we might agree on the effects, but disagree on how we value the outcomes. I take Drew’s comments to mean that I am too often wrong about the effects that the policies I recommend would have.

Perhaps. One of the purposes of EphBlog is to discuss those effects. I am endlessly curious about the what other people think about Williams — about what works and what doesn’t, about what could be fixed and what isn’t broken. Again, instead of issuing a blanket claim that my forecasts of the likely effects of specific policy changes are ignorant, it would be helpful if Drew (or anyone else) cited a specific forecast that he disagreed with and the reasons for his disagreement. I might (slowly) come to agree with him. Indeed, it was the excellent discussion on EphBlog that changed my opinion on the reasonableness of tips.

Drew has, of course, no obligation to do so. Indeed, he has no obligation to read what I write. But I, and I suspect other readers, would be a lot more impressed with his argument if it were better grounded in specific claims rather than general attacks.

4) The “pulse of campus life” may or not be a useful construct, but it is dangerous argument for someone from the class of 2004 to use. I certainly agree that the more knowledge that you have about life on campus, the better able that you are, on average, to make accurate factual claims about life at Williams as well as to forecast the effect of changes in policy. But there is plenty of dispersion around that average.

The reason that this is a dangerous argument for Drew to make is that it leaves him open to similar jabs rom current students. Consider a claim made by a current student that the JA system should be abolished or that only scholarship (and not teaching ability) should matter in tenure decisions or insert-any-other-bad-change-here. Drew would have many good reasons for claiming that the effects of these policy changes would likely be bad and/or not what those in favor might expect. But a current student could reply to Drew:

Thanks, old alum, for your geriatric viewpoint. But, you are not a current student, you know nothing about the current pulse of campus life. What you believe may (or may not) have been correct 1 or 15 or 50 years ago, but it isn’t true now. Go away.

Now, I don’t think that this hypothetical student would be correct in making such an argument. I think that all sorts of people — alums or not, on campus or not — can have reasonable and insightful things to say about the likely effects of policy changes. I recommend that Drew adopt a similar viewpoint.

I may very well be wrong about every forecast that I make, but my age and location have very little to do with it.

5) And, finally, for those still with us, let me end with the specific subject of my dispute with Drew. To repeat:

Furthermore, being 15 years removed from Williams, where did you gain the knowledge to make statements such as “Why is it that the President’s job has become more complex/challenging at a faster rate than the job of economics professor? Answer: It hasn’t.”

What do my age and location have to do with my knowledge about such things? To be clear, there are two separate issues. One: How reasonable is it for a random alum to make such a claim? Two: How reasonable is it for me, in particular, to make such a claim? To be precise, we are talking not just about Morty or David Zimmerman or anyone else specifically. We are arguing over the relative changes in the complexity/challenge of the jobs of president and economics professor at Williams and places like Williams. (Certainly, the same salary changes are clearly happening at almost all other similar schools.)

There is also a rhetorical question of who holds the burden of proof here. Is it my responsibility to prove that the relative changes have been the same or must someone who is advancing this argument as a explanation/justification for increasing divergence in salaries provide evidence that the rates of change are different? Let’s leave this to one side.

Who is better equiped to judge the how the jobs of president and professor at places like Williams have changed over the last 15 years? A current student or an old alum? Let me be charitable to Drew and declare it a tie. Whatever a current student might know about what life is like at Williams today for our president/professor is equivalent, more or less, to what an old alum would know about life 20 years ago. They each have equal knowledge of their own eras at Williams.

But since we are interested in rates of change, we need to know who has the better sense of what life was like for the professor/president in some other era. Is it easier for a current student to learn about life 20 years ago or for an old alum to learb about life today? I again, I want to be charitable and declare a tie.

Of course, there will be current students who are completely clueless about olden days just as there are old alums who don’t know a thing about Williams today. But I see no reason why, on average, a current student is a better judge of this question then an old alumnus.

It is a separate question as to whether I, in particular, because of my background and experience, am well-equipped in making this judgment. If Drew really wants to hear about the relevant portions of my CV, I will be happy to provide them. Yet I think that the claims that I am making stand without assistance from my resume. Although the last 20 years have seen plenty of changes in all professional jobs — lawyer, doctor, professor, college president, consultant, investment banker — there is, to my mind, no good evidence that any of these jobs has grown more complex/challenging at a faster rate than any of the others. If Drew knows of any such evidence, I would be eager to read about it.

Let me close by thanking Drew for his comments. We would be eager for him to join us as an author at EphBlog. He has many interesting things to say about everything that Williams is and everything that Williams could become. I look forward to reading them all.

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#1 Comment By Drew On December 11, 2004 @ 3:32 am

Despite your patronizing tone, I appreciate you taking my concerns seriously and writing a 2,000 word defense of your actions.

I want to begin by saying that I think EphBlog does and can serve a good purpose. Posting topics on alumni in the news, Williams-related accomplishments, and the perpetual inferiority of amHerst are all fine and appropriate. And I think you, with your Williams obsession, fill this role perfectly.

Yet, I believe your eagerness to discuss “all things Eph,” you have demonstrated a history of making statements and assertions about life at Williams today that are incorrect and reflect an ignorance of the way Williams currently exists.

Before I cite specific examples, I have three quick responses to comments you made:

First, with regard to whether your words are “policy disputes,” “factual assertions,” or plain old opinions, if your analysis is of or based upon what Williams is today and your words do not reflect the current state of Williams, they are wrong.

Second, with regard to you your CV, you could have the most glorious resume in the world, but if you are saying something that is incorrect, it is still incorrect.

Third, I want to reiterate that I in no way fault you for not being connected to the pulse of campus life; being 15 years removed from the College, it is only natural and to be expected — just as my direct connection with the campus continues to wane. In fact, it is to your credit that you know as much about Williams as you do.

When taking a break from a take home exam this morning, I quickly found the following 11 examples of false statements you have made about the way Williams exists today:

“There are many problems at Williams. Excessive alcohol cosumption is not one of them.”

I am starting with this one because it’s my favorite: You have no idea what you are talking about. Binge drinking is a huge problem at all colleges, including Williams.

“While it is easy to drink to excess, it is extremely hard to kill yourself this way, at least in the absence of a fraternity-type ritual.”

This is just incorrect — the “Tequila Fridays” incident of 2000 that sent a frosh to the hospital with an astonishing blood alcohol level of something like .32.

“Color me skeptical, but I would suspect that the amount of serious drinking isn’t much different today than it was 10 or 20 years ago.”

Ever hear of pregaming? It’s when underclassmen drink high quantities of high proof alcohol in a very short period of time in their rooms before going out because they can’t get a beer at a party. I am sure this trend began when the drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984, but pregaming has intensified significantly when enforcement of the law in Williamstown significantly increased in the late 1990’s.

“The (mostly junior) faculty that the College is recruiting to come to Williams are, in general, so thankful to have a tenure track job that the issue of the quality of the local hospital is essentially irrelevant.”

This statement is entirely incorrect. The College has data showing that housing, schools, and health care are key factors needed to recruit high quality professors to Williams.

“Personally, I’d love to see about ten or fifteen percent of that endowment aimed specifically at keeping tuition increases at or below cost of living increases”

Limiting tuition increases would significantly harm Williams just as Vogt’s tuition freeze of did in 2000. Prospective students associate quality with cost; if Williams charged less than it’s peer institutions, it would lose more qualified candidates to other schools believing they could get a better education elsewhere. Furthermore, Williams will be deprived of needed revenue that can be used to either 1) further improve the college or 2) increase the amount of financial aid awarded. There are sound economic studies, discussed in Morty’s tutorial, that prove all of this.

“Expand the size of the [JA Selection] committee to include just about all applicants[, which is around 35].”

This suggestion reflects an ignorance the committee’s current challenges. By many accounts, 20 people on the committee is almost unwieldy — increasing its size by 75 will on exacerbate to problem. The committee already meets from 10pm to 2am for something like 6 weeks; giving all 35 people their say would push the meeting until 3am? 4am? 5am?

“Where is the poll of faculty members? It borders on journalistic malpractice for the Record not to at least try to fairly gauge faculty opinion on the election.”

You have no basis whatsoever for concluding that the Record has not tried to poll the faculty and for accusing the Record of “journalistic malpractice.”

“Lopez ’95: Inventor of First Days”

Norma didn’t “invent” First Days, she just reordered it, as Ohm put it “so that entries became the first point of contact” — most of the core components stayed the same (with the notable addition of the struggling “Where Am I” program).

“Unlike the embarrassment that was last year, he would give a speech that is original to the occasion and heart-felt in its delivery.” (regarding Halberstam)

While Harry Sheehy is definitely a great speaker, you have no basis whatsoever to conclude that Halberstam’s delivery was not heartfelt. Halberstam (along with Gomes at Baccalaureate) delivered a tremendous speech, was captivating, and elicited a thunderous applause (so what the speech was given before — it’s a common practice). As far as concluding he was an embarrassment, I haven’t heard one complaint from my classmates; in fact at Homecoming, I heard classmates say they would much rather hear a well-delivered, insightful “common” speech over a poorly-delivered, boring, “unique” speech. (Furthermore, for the record, Halberstam was genuinely happy to be at Williams and to be receiving an honorary degree from the College.)

“I would be surprised if more than 30 students applied for the 20-odd slots [in the Williams Exeter Programme]. If there are more applicants than this nowadays, then they ought to expand the program.”

There were around 50 applicants last year. Aside from WEPO being a money drainer (especially with the current exchange rate), there is no room to expand: no room for additional housing in the compound nor room for additional room at Exeter (a key bottleneck is the library), making the chances of significantly expanding the program infinitely low in the near future.

“ACE ought to invite Fountains of Wayne for a campus concert sometime.”

When they were popular, ACE did try to bring them for Homecoming 2003, but they were booked (opening for some other group in California) and the student body lost interest by the time Spring Fling hit.

Second, I take issue with your demonstrated history of public persecutions on EphBlog. The attacks you have repeatedly launched are harmful, damaging, and unwarranted. Here are three examples:

1. Public Persecution of Morty in the Marsh Situation
Whether it’s the SEC or the College, there are fact-finding institutions qualified to determine if Morty’s actions were inappropriate. EphBlog is not one of them. Acting as prosecutor, judge, jury (and maybe executioner) and dragging out this saga over a series of topics (1, 2, 3, et al.)when you clearly don’t have all of the information is ridiculous. Do you feel that those with the power to investigate are not doing their jobs?

2. Public Persecution of Innocents in the Laelian Situation
Recklessly and wantonly accusing others in Laelian situation, causing harm to their good names without any basis — other than mere speculation — for making your accusations is completely irresponsible.

3. Public Persecution of An Innocent Party in the Rape Situation
You wrote: “Although this blog has occasional suggested idiosyncratic views of how to decrease the rate of sexual assault on the Williams campus, I suspect that many observors might agree that plastering this picture all over campus might be a good way to start.” It’s a good thing no one listened to your suggestion and posted his face and “rapist” all over campus since the accused was found innocent and they would be guilty of defamation. I further believe that it was inappropriate to post a huge copy of his picture; what benefits of posting the image exist to outweigh the harms and damage you caused by identifying the acquitted?

If you need more examples, I am sure I could find more, but I doubt I will have time until after exams.

#2 Comment By Aidan On December 11, 2004 @ 9:58 am

geez, wow, between Newman and Bradburd (Newburd?) you’ve really got some critics, there, Kane. Heck, I’m sure if someone went poking on my blog you’d find a statement to the effect of “Kane fallaciously belives that the Record accurately represents what goes on at Williams College.” Or something to that effect, I’m too lazy to look it up.

#3 Comment By Aidan On December 11, 2004 @ 10:01 am

and…re: the first 3, and maybe this is just my dim recollection, but Kane was extolling the benefits of ale vis-a-vis hard alcohol. The comment makes more sense in this regard, and Drew, your riposte against Tequilla Friday is merely supporting evidence for this view. In any case.

#4 Comment By David Kane ’88 On December 11, 2004 @ 10:20 am

I appreciate Drew taking the time to respond to my post. We can certainly dive into this in more detail after exams. Many of the points that he raises are fair and reasonable. But, for the most part, I am largely unimpressed. For now, let me make one small point and one rebuttal.

The small point: I was not asserting that my resume was “glorious.” Indeed, I have strong record of mediocrity going back at least to MATH 108 20 years ago. My claim was that on the specific topic of judging how the jobs of president/professor have changed over the last 15 years I have some very relevant experience.

The rebuttal: Drew writes

I quickly found the following 11 examples of false statements you have made about the way Williams exists today:

“There are many problems at Williams. Excessive alcohol cosumption is not one of them.”

I am starting with this one because it’s my favorite: You have no idea what you are talking about. Binge drinking is a huge problem at all colleges, including Williams.

Let me also start out with your “favorite”. This highlights why I tried to distinguish (unsuccessfuly, I guess) between facts and values in my response.

First, there are the facts about how much drinking goes on at Williams. To be concrete, let us start with how much went on last night. How many Williams students touched any alcohol last night? 1000? How many had at least one drink? 500? How many got drunk (meaning blood alcohol level of greater than 0.1)? 250? How many got “dangerously” drunk (meaning > 0.2)? 25?

Again, my claim is not that I know what the correct answers are to these questions. A current undergraduate will have much better estimates than anyone else. [Side note: I would like to here Drew’s, or anyone else’s, answers to these questions. I am honestly curious about how much drinking goes on at Williams today.]

But, on the factual question of how many students got drunk last night or any night, and how drunk they got, I made no empirical claims. I did not say that the number was X or Y or Z.

Now, of course, I did say that excessive alcohol consumption is not a problem. (I probably should have said “major” problem, but surely my meaning is clear.) I still don’t believe that it is a problem. Indeed, I was highly skeptical during last year’s alcohol scare period.

Second, once we agree on the actual facts — how much drinking takes place — we can go onto the values question. Drew claims that “Binge drinking is a huge problem at all colleges, including Williams.” As always, it is perfectly possible for Drew and I to be in 100% agreement on the facts — how much alcohol is consumed at Williams, how much was consumed 20 years ago — and still disagree on how large a problem this is because we have different values.

In other words, if 25 or 50 or even 500 Williams students engaged in “binge drinking” — however you want to define it — last night, I am just not that concerned. Kids drink. Young men, especially, often enjoy getting very drunk. It was that way in my father’s era 50 years ago. It was that way 20 years ago. I have no doubt that young Ephs will still be getting hammered when my daughters show up a decade from now. Such is the way of the world.

There is nothing wrong with Drew believing that too much drinking goes on. His values differ from mine. We do not, I think, disagree about the facts. It is therefore unhelpful for him to characterize my opinion as “ignorant”.

Now, I am ready to consider evidence that Ephs today drink more than Ephs 20 years ago or that they drink more than students at other colleges or that the amount of drinking that they do is a “huge problem”. I am ready to believe that, with more information and argument, my values would change. But the differences between Drew and I are value-based, not fact based. They have nothing to do with the date of my last visit to Williamstown.

#5 Comment By Loweeel On December 11, 2004 @ 10:51 am

Oh, and Drew – I thought Halberstam’s speech was subpar at best. That was the fourth graduation speech I heard that year, including both of mine at Columbia.

It was even noticably worse than Kurt Vonnegut’s rambling, incoherent, anti-Bush rant that I heard at Lehigh for my best friend’s graduation. At least THAT was interesting, though the epitome of everything a graduation speech should not be.

#6 Comment By Drew On December 11, 2004 @ 12:50 pm

Kane, your comments above only further my point about just how ignorant you are about Williams today.

The issue is not how many students binge drink. After all, the Health Center’s favorite quote is “the average Williams student drinks between zero and four drinks when they go out.” In fact the overall amount of alcohol consumption is down; the number of kegs on campus last year was half of what it was 20 years go — but that’s been replaced at least in part by 30-packs, 40’s, and much more hard-a.

The issue is that alcohol abuse is, if not the most likely, one of the most likely causes of a Williams student dying. Administrators are worrying about this every weekend. And this was not the case 15, 10, or really even 5 years ago.

There has been a shifting pattern in the way alcohol is consumed at Williams, brought on by WPD’s now strong enforcement of the drinking laws. Around the time you graduated, a popular party at Dodd (capacity 435) could have 14-16 kegs and they would all be kicked by the end of the night. Now, a popular party at Dodd is lucky to kick 3 kegs — but 2/3rds of the attendees now down shots or otherwise pregamed before attending.

Administrators have stated their recent fear of a student dying from alcohol publicly — and I used to hear it just about every week. The Record (see Mike’s editorial) has addressed the issue several times.

You wrote:

“There are many problems at Williams. Excessive alcohol cosumption is not one of them.”

Therefore your statement is just plain wrong. Excessive alcohol consumption is a significant problem — if not a very serious problem — at Williams.

#7 Comment By Zach On December 11, 2004 @ 1:22 pm

Drew, do you recognize the irony in your arguments about alcohol abuse? You are telling Kane he can’t possibly understand the problems at Williams because he is several years removed from campus, yet you are relying heavily on the exact same kind of shady data and assumptions about the nature of the school during Kane’s undergraduate years. I don’t remember seeing you on campus five years ago when “enforcement of the law in Williamstown significantly increased in the late 1990’s” and I’m pretty sure you weren’t weasling your way into all the on-campus social planning activities 10 or 15 years ago,so you don’t have a very good idea of what really happened there. Kane is just as capable of getting numbers and analysis from the Record about today’s party scene as you are from the archives of 15 years ago, so quit playing the all knowing master of Williams’ social history.

I don’t know whether drinking problems were worse back then or now, but from the limited anecdotal evidence I have, kids at college have been drinking to excess about as long as there have been kids attending college. It has always been an important concern–no less when partys regularly kick 14 kegs than when people are drinking in their common rooms instead of going to a Drew Newman sponsored event. I’m glad the college is paying attention to the health of their students, but don’t try to act like the sky is all of a sudden falling over Williams.

#8 Comment By Drew On December 11, 2004 @ 1:51 pm

Sorry Zach, my numbers aren’t based on “shady data.” They are based on information Security has. In the late 1980’s, 1,000 kegs were registered a year; last year there ACE registered around 350 kegs (and there were probably another 150 or so registered/unregistered ones on campus). As far as the changing nature of enforcement of the drinking laws and changing alcohol cuture, all of the administrators and security officers who have been at Williams for the last 20 years are unanimous in saying this and in explaining why (re: Agard incident of 1997?) … and I believe them.

#9 Comment By Zach On December 11, 2004 @ 1:59 pm

I know your inner circle of administrators and security have their hands of the pulse of student life and behavior at all times, but I still doubt that their evidence is any stronger than that available to Kane via the Record and the students and administrators with whom he communicates.

#10 Comment By Drew On December 11, 2004 @ 2:06 pm

That’s good then, Zach, since the changes in the party policy, drinking culture, and enforcement of the drinking laws have been widely reported in the Record.

#11 Comment By David Kane ’88 On December 11, 2004 @ 2:24 pm

I am afraid that I have lost the thread of our dispute. I *think* that Drew is arguing that, even though “the overall amount of alcohol consumption is down,” there is more extreme drinking going on at Williams today than there was 20 years ago.

In other words, there were X students at Williams last night who drank enough, quickly enough, that their blood alcohol was greater than 0.2%. (If you don’t want to use this as a cut-off for “excessive,” please specify a different number.)

Question: How big is X, either last night or on a typical Friday/Saturday? I am just hoping to reduce my ignorance here.

If I am misunderstanding your argument, please help me out.

#12 Comment By Drew On December 11, 2004 @ 2:25 pm

I have to run now and will be gone for the rest of the day, but I don’t think we should remain on the first of my 11 citations for too long since there are 10 more out there.

I am also anxious to discuss the history of persecutions (probably too strong of a word, I know — but strong attacks, at the least) on EphBlog. Why are they justified? Who benefits? How do the benefits outweigh the harms? What do you get out of launching them?

Thanks, and I look forward to the responses.

#13 Comment By Aidan On December 11, 2004 @ 3:04 pm

my boss, who was ’87, had a kegolater in his Greylock common room.

#14 Comment By Loweeel On December 11, 2004 @ 8:32 pm

Let’s think about the likely causes of students dying.

Williams has been EXTREMELY lucky in that no students have committed suicide while I was there, at least as far as I can remember. Compare to NYU’s 4+ library jumpers in the last 2 years. At least stochastically speaking, Williams has to expect a suicide at some point in the next 5 years or so. So, let’s put suicide up there at #1.

#2 – Again, a typical thing for college students, probably meningitis. How many students, nationwide, die from alcohol poison vs. meningitis? Again, alcohol is a lot less likely on this one, if you’re looking for a likely cause of student deaths.

And sadly, student consumption of alcohol also probably ranks below sports/recreation activities as a likely cause of death, such as a student hit by a car while going running.

Alcohol might be the cause of death over which the adminstration thinks it has the most control, but like the well-intentioned effort to make babies on airplanes sit in another seat, rather than their parents’ laps, it’s surely the road to hell. A “tight” alcohol policy like Williams has, like any sort of prohibition, has the effect of incentivizing concentration (ie, everclear, hard alcohol), as it’s much easier to smuggle a few handles of vodka or everclear in a backpack than the equivalent # of molecules of ethanol in a keg.

Injuries? Sure. Hospital trips? Sure. Sexual assault and gray areas of consent? Unfortunately so. Alcohol has been and will probably continue to be a likely cause of those.

But given the social scene, even with pregaming, people rarely pregame alone, and one’s friends generally know if a student needs to go to the hospital or not. But I think it’s highly unlikely that a Williams student, given the tight-knit nature of campus, would actually be able to drink himself or herself to death on-campus.

Alcohol, if even that high, is no higher than a distant #4 on a likely cause of death of a student. To pretend it’s anything higher is like saying that The Day After Tomorrow is a good argument for global warming theory.

#15 Comment By Loweeel On December 11, 2004 @ 9:29 pm

See here:

Relevant stats:
* There are ~130 _TOTAL_ deaths every year from accidental (ie, overconsumptive) alcohol poisoning.
* Total deaths with alcohol consumption listed as any sort of cause at all are .49/100,000.
* Fewer than 2% are people under 21
* 80% of these are male.

So, even if Williams’ alcohol poisoning patterns mimiced society as a whole (which they don’t, given that less than 2% are people under age 21), with ~2000 people at Williams, you’d need 100 years at the 1996-1998 rates to have a single expected death from alcohol poisoning.

However, let’s dig a little more. Let’s say that, at any time, 60% of williams students are under 21, which seems, if anything, to be underestimating somewhat. So for (.6)(2000) people, you’d have a death rate of (.02)(.49/100000) = 1.176 x 10^-4 deaths per year, and add to that (.4)(2000) with a death rate of (.98)(.49/100000) for the remaining 800 people, gives you a death rate of 3.8416 X 10^-3 deaths per year (let’s call this variable DPY), assuming that people over 21 and still in college die at the same rate of all alcohol consumers. That’s one death expected every 260 years, for Williams for excessive alcohol poisoning, at the country-wide 1996-1998 rates.

Even if I’m off by an entire order of magnitude, that’s still one death from alcohol expected every 26 years, unless Drew thinks that people going to college drink more than those outside it.

Given that there are much more likely forms of death for people ages 15-24 (link), with even heart disease (cause #5) still more than half an order of magnitude more likely than the .49/100,000 alcohol poisoning death rate across age groups, if the administration is REALLY, TRULY concerned about expected student deaths, they’d ban cars from campus, give out anti-depressants to every student, as well as zocor and lipitor, and have mandatory monthly cancer screenings and cholesterol tests.

But hey, what are little things like facts and figures to get in the way of paternalistic bullshit?

#16 Comment By Mike On December 12, 2004 @ 3:57 pm

This comment is my first contribution to this discussion. I have more to add next time I have 30 free mins.

#17 Comment By Frank On December 12, 2004 @ 9:14 pm

Drew relax and have a beer.

#18 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On December 12, 2004 @ 9:37 pm

Did I seriously just see “persecutions” in there?

Someone is taking this and themselves far too seriously.