1. Each of the last two years, an increase in the hospitalizations of underclassmen for reasons related to alcohol has been on the radar of the college – peaking with a mention from President Durden at convocation – and the pages of the Dickinsonian. Theories to explain this include: the brief heyday of Four Loko, an increase in rash decision-making and an increase in drinking in general. I posit that all of these (except for maybe the Four Loko one) are comically misguided. Here is what I believe to be going on: fraternities are being either thrown off campus or forced to keep parties closed to cover their collective asses, and enforcement of relatively benign underage drinking remains fairly stringent. However, students aren’t responding to these disincentives by putting down the bottle; they’re responding by taking that bottle back to their rooms, drinking with other inexperienced drinkers and finishing it way too quickly. The college needs to make its stance on drinking more holistic. There are two possible moves: we could get rid of Greek life entirely and in exchange almost severely cut back on enforcement. Or, we treat Greeks like an actual segment of the Dickinson community, and enact policies that reflect this belief, like hiring a full-time director of Greek life. That way, call me crazy, people would be able to go to parties, and DPS would be able to have a legitimate interest in policing those parties to make sure that they’re safe. In the present environment, a confluence of policies and practices are pushing underclassmen to drink in their rooms (and, to be fair, some of my fondest memories of Dickinson include Natural Ice and Buchanan Hall) and sending juniors and seniors to Carlisle’s finest saloons and billiards parlors. Why not figure out a way to acknowledge that college students drink – almost monolithically so – and put them in a position to do it that is both safe (for the underclassmen) and back on campus (for the village elders)?
2. OK, I couldn’t resist another dig regarding inconsistency on the college’s sacred cow, sustainability. At the Quarry and Biblio, if you want to get a second cup of coffee, you can’t refill the first plastic cup they gave you. They have to give you a second cup. In a lengthy library push, this could be two or three additional paper or plastic cups needlessly used. Over the course of three or four academically rigorous years, well, that’s a lot of waste.
3. When you hit your senior year, Dickinson begins to butter you up and occasionally outright asks you for a financial contribution. They want to establish a lifelong pattern of alumni philanthropy to the college. As a veteran of private schools (like many, many other Dickinsonians), I take no offense at being hit up for cash. It’s how private schools function. However, actually providing respectable senior housing, or failing that, allowing every senior who wants to do so to live off campus would be a far more effective way of building a relationship between student and school that would make the student more likely to donate in the future. A million Pints with Profs wouldn’t foster the same contentment with Dickinson that one quality apartment would.
4. Dickinson has been lauded for its commitment to student and staff wellness with free preventive services (various types of testing, etc) and exercise classes. If student health were a particularly high priority, though, Dining Services would have a few different policies. As previously outlined in this space, every meal plan other than traditional is a rip-off. And even traditional has severe failings from a health perspective. Research seems to be quite clear that the healthiest way to eat is several small meals throughout the day; traditional essentially requires you to eat as much as you can stuff down your face two or three times a day and then not eat anything else during the day. The idea that the two pieces of fruit or one ice cream cone that you can walk out of the cafeteria with provides adequate inter-meals nutrition is laughable.
Lock it up, Dickinson. You’re really, really close to being an incredibly awesome place to go to school.