Monday, March 03, 2008

It Must Be Grown in Green Manure to be Certified Organic and SOS Supplies It.

I want to thank the folks at Safeguard Old State for demonstrating with their support of State Patty's Day that Penn State flack Bill Mahon is wrong about the cause of alcohol abuse at Penn State.

Here is Bill in 2006, shortly after the news of Penn State's number two rank as a party school broke, explaining that yes there is an alcohol problem at Penn State, but no it isn't Penn State's fault; it's the bar's fault.
...Bill Mahon said with the amount of marketing of alcohol, he is surprised the university isn't number one. He said 353 Penn State students were taken to the emergency room for alcohol overdoses last year. "There are 90 bottle shops, beer distributors, bars, state (liquor) stores and restaurants that sell alcohol within a five mile radius of Old Main. Our students don't stand a chance," Mahon said in an e-mail. "We are not going to wave the white flag and give up, but it is a struggle every year to compete with the businesses in this community that aggressively promote alcohol consumption with our students," Mahon said
I've always found this a bit odd. It's as if Old Main were arguing that the large enrollment at University Park isn't due to any Penn State policy, rather it is a result of all of the student housing within a five mile radius of the Old Main.

The reason there is an alcohol problem at Penn State isn't the bars, it's because of the party school culture amongst the students, as SOS has so clearly shown us. Many student select Penn State because of that culture and many of those that come here for other reasons are soon enough adopted into the culture. This means that it is self-sustaining. And the bars are a product of the culture not its cause.

The reason that such a culture can exist is that University policies make it possible. Low academic standards, the celebration of sports over academics, and the ethos of the primacy of practical over liberal education, means that the life of the mind gets short shrift and students aren't challenged and pushed to think. Parties and alcohol are an escape from the dull grind of being trained for life in a cubical.

Old Main can begin the long process of changing the culture by raising standards and emphasizing the joy of learning for its own sake.

That won't happen with Spanier at the helm. He's the the epitome of the anti-intellectual party animal only without the alcohol. Let's call him Graham "O'Douls" Spanier.

So thank-you once again Safeguard Old State for your Spanieresque defense of State Patty's Day. It makes clear exactly where the problem lies.

As always, ha-mace is a must read on the topic.

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