Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Excessive noise"

Just got back from seeing RUFUS WAINWRIGHT. For free, no less, thanks to Nick brilliantly getting us free tickets to the new Elvis Costello show. My pasta is still cooking, which gives me time to quote from what will surely become a classic "Personal Health" column. Here's Jane Brody, on the subject of alcohol abuse on American college campuses:

"Although Greek houses, which have the highest rates of binge drinking, are infamous for a free-flowing alcohol culture, studies have found that student athletes and sports fans are also among the heaviest drinkers, often gathering to drink to oblivion after an athletic event."

Did studies also reveal the black trenchcoat-clove cigarette connection? How about the Dave Matthews Band-beaded hemp necklace-weed trifecta? What's the word on graduate students and coffee? Looks like I was on the right track:

"Studies have shown that there is less drinking by students concerned about their grades, but also by those involved in volunteer work and other activities on and off campus."

Studies have shown that the phrase "studies have shown" is among the most abused in the English language.

But here's where things go awry. I know Brody means well, and I obviously agree with her that college students shouldn't drink themselves to death, but my gosh, the "What Parents Can Do" section...

"When visiting schools, parents should check out the quality of life in the dorms. If they detect problems suggestive of heavy drinking, like excessive noise or vomit in the bathrooms, 'they should demand that these issues be addressed,' [some expert] said." Ohhhh no. The very thought of someone's parents listening for "excessive noise" in a communal bathroom... I hope they don't try this at UChicago, where there is indeed underage drinking, but more significantly where the dining halls and campus coffee shops are often (or were, back in the day) shut down by the health department. Just imagine being in a stall and hearing someone's mother yelling to the kid's father out in the hall, "That's it, he's going to Northwestern!"

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