Monday, October 15, 2007

The Review Reveals Alcohol Documents

In their latest issue, which arrived outside my door a few minutes ago, The Dartmouth Review shares leaked administration documents about alcohol at Dartmouth. The most interesting item was a Powerpoint presentation on Pong. The presentation consisted of 65 slides (17 of which are reproduced in the print edition) which gave such insightful statistics as the number of students who prefer Tree (30.7%) and the typical length of 5 games of pong (3 hours and 45 minutes). It also includes quotes such as "Most Dartmouth students despise Beirut as a derivative form of the game". It must have been a tedious presentation, with one slide studying the correlation between "Pong Excellence and Winning".

The other set of documents is an in depth look at alcohol statistics, comparing Dartmouth to other colleges, and looking at Dartmouth over time. The takeaway is that Dartmouth students get arrested far more often than students at other schools. For example, in 2003, 106 Dartmouth students got arrested for alcohol violations. By comparison, there were no arrests whatsoever at Yale, Harvard, and Brown. Princeton had 39 arrests, but only one happened on university property, while 53 Dartmouth students got arrested on-campus that year. Penn had 4 arrests and Cornell had 16, not even coming close to Dartmouth. Comparing Dartmouth to a peer group of liberal arts colleges, none came within 25% of Dartmouth arrest total.

If these statistics are accurate, then it would clearly suggest that the Hanover Police is arresting students with a vigor that none of their peers do.


John Bruce said...

This apparently got started sometime around 1999 when the SLI was announced, though the 1980s memo that The Dartmouth Review published in 2005, also via a leak, had Sandy McCullogh denouncing an alcohol based culture.

I was skeptical of the part of Stephen Smith's platform concerning due process and Parkhursting last spring, but given these statistics, I think he has a point. Seems like there won't be much that can be done about this unless the Board takes an interest.

Joseph Asch '79 said...

Yale does alcohol differently (and more intelligently):

Anonymous said...

Joe, would you stop linking to your junky opinion? The "Yale Police" are a branch of the official New Haven Police and officers of the State of Connecticut. Are you proposing to give the Hanover Police even more power?

John, what does Parkhursting have to do with due process of law? Are you proposing to give Parkhurst the power of the county court?

John Bruce said...

9:17, Smith's point was that Parkhurst has draconian disciplinary powers (the term referring to the ability to suspend students, which is not infrequently used), while students do not have the ability to cross-examine witnesses and other protections that we take for granted elsewhere. This appears in the context of what is clearly aggressive enforcement of alcohol policies at a level far beyond Dartmouth's peers. The TDR documents back up anecdotal evidence on this and other sites.

Seems to me that Smith's overall point is the administration needs to back off on discipline, especially for alcohol. Despite criticism of his position during the campaign, and in spite of my own skepticism, it seems to me that he's right. Are you saying this hyper-enforcement is all just great?

Anonymous said...

"Seems to me that Smith's overall point is the administration needs to back off on discipline, especially for alcohol." These stats support Smith's idea when it comes to alcohol.

They don't suggest anything about whether Parkhurst's procedures or its exercise of its power of suspension are at all unreasonable.

There are a lot of elements of civic life that students take for granted that do not exist when they are on somebody else's land. That does not mean Dartmouth should or could import them.

Joseph Asch '79 said...

Anon October 17, 2007 9:17 AM,

In writing my column I met with Harry Kinney, head of Dartmouth S&S; Nick Giaccone, Chief of the Hanover Po; and Dean Esserman '79, former Chief of Police of New Haven, Connecticut and current Chief of Police of Providence, Rhode Island.

All three confirmed that the New Haven Po, as an independent, state-authorized, municipal police department (one that is entirely separate from the New Haven Po), has a high obligation to enforce state laws, but it also has police discretion.

In contrast, they said, Dartmouth S&S, as a private security guard service, is responsible only to the College. As Kinney said to me, "I do what I am ordered to do".

Dartmouth’s alcohol policy is what Wright dictates it to be, and all he has to do is say the word and S&S will stop Parkhursting 19-year-old kids for blowing a 0.02% BAC as they walk down the street after drinking a Keystone. And most certainly, too, the College has enough influence with the Town of Hanover to get the Hanover Po to back off.

Why doesn’t Wright do this? Who knows? He and his administration seem constantly at war with students - in contrast to the established policies of Yale and other Ivy League institutions.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Joe! Why are you comparing two utterly different institutions? If you think S&S should use more discretion, then why not learn about a similar private security detail (say, at another Ivy or private college) that does use more discretion? What good does it do to compare S&S to what amount to municipal cops?

Everyone knows the admin. does and should put some pressure on S&S to enforce the rules, but you're just trying to dispute the amount. Don't you have bigger fish to fry? Is it hard to keep a straight face when you get concerned about the proportion of lawbreaking students who should be disciplined for their actions?

John Bruce said...

3:22, it seems to me that the TDR stats say that every other Ivy's police force, no matter what its legal status, exercises more discretion.

Joseph Asch '79 said...

Amen, Mr. Bruce.

For Anon, in case he/she/it needs it spelled out yet again and is not simply being obtuse: my point is that Dartmouth's private security detail has a lot more leeway to exercise discretion than official, municipal cops - but S&S does not use their freedom to be benevolent because they have been told to be as tough as possible!

Anonymous said...

Joe now tries to say that "my point is that Dartmouth's private security detail has a lot more leeway to exercise discretion than official, municipal cops."

Then why didn't he make that point in his editorial, in which he purposefully obscured the fact that Yale's police, bizarrely if not uniquely, are officers of the state? He even wrote "The New Haven Police force’s relationship with Yale is typical of relations between most municipal police forces and universities" when Yale is the most atypical example, because the Yale Police are not a private security force like Dartmouth's or those of most private schools. Joe's being disingenuous.

John's comment re: heavier enforcement at Dartmouth was already made above: "These stats support Smith's idea when it comes to alcohol."

Once more, TDR might have a point about relative enforcement, although Joe's and John's intense interest in the proportion of lawbreaking students who are punished is a bit strange. Joe's reference to Yale does not make this point, though.

John Bruce said...

9:11, I simply repeated my point because you seemed not to have grasped it. Now you want to turn around and make this somehow my fault?

Joseph Asch '79 said...

Anon, My, my. Here are some facts: Seven of the eight Ivy League police forces are duly sworn municipal forces; only Dartmouth's is not.

The point that you make, "the Yale Police are not a private security force like Dartmouth's or those of most private schools," is flat out wrong. Did you do any research before you advanced it, or did you just make it up?

My core issue is that Dartmouth throws the book at its students whenever it can, in contrast to all of the other Ivies. The fact that Dartmouth is under LESS of an obligation to do so, because S&S is a private security force, does not weaken this point.

Let me ask you a question, Anon: if and when you are old enough to have children, would you call the police and and file a report if you found one of them sipping a beer while under the age of 21?

Note: "In loco parentis" is not Spanish for "crazy parents."

John Bruce said...

One thing that puzzles me about pro-Board and pro-administration posts here and on other sites is the authoritarianism implicit in them. The administration can do what it pleases! The Board has acted! What's your quibble?

This is not old-style "whig" liberalism.

Anonymous said...

"Seven of the eight Ivy League police forces are duly sworn municipal forces; only Dartmouth's is not." Why didn't you say so? Isn't that the larger problem? You should propose that Dartmouth put its security under the auspices of the state. If that distinction is the cause of Dartmouth throwing the book at students (and you still don't know why that issue is important to you as a non-drunk student) then propose to change it.

"The Yale Police are not a private security force like Dartmouth's" is an absolutely correct statement.

I bet most private schools' security forces are private like Dartmouth's, even if some of their officers have been sworn as privately-employed constables (which still does not make the department a municipal force). I did not do any research to back it up, but it is not "flat out wrong. Why are you so agitated about lawbreaking students getting punished?

In loco parentis is dead, by the way.

If John were a friend of private rights of property, even where the effect of their exercise appears harsh, instead of an advocate of judicial interference (he will need an activist judge if he wants to reduce the rights of the trustees by a lawsuit -- good luck) then he would not see authoritarianism in private contracts. Because governments are capable of being "authoritarian," they are obligated or constrained by democracy not to be. Individuals making agreements among themselves are not so constrained, and their agreements often consist of promises to refrain from doing the very things that a government could never inhibit. Students who go to Dartmouth do so under private contracts. Dartmouth cannot treat them unreasonably (in contract terms) but it is expected to require them to give away rights that no government could ask for. What's your quibble? If the extent of the Board's ability to make decisions was important to you, why didn't you go to a state school?

John Bruce said...

Authoritarianism is not just a political term. It also applies to psychology, and it's used in the context of anything from toilet training on up. Authoritarians are to be found, mirabile dictu, in schools, public and private, where they probably thrive because there are lots of kids to dominate.

Anonymous said...

But there is nothing to be done about authoritarianism unless it is a government's.

If it's not technically authoritarian but just one private person's tendency to act in an overbearing or domineering (but still reasonable) manner toward someone else -- someone who is free to deal with a substitute -- then it's not clear why we would be interested.

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