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Cool-ege

I just read an article on Yahoo news about college life in co-ed dorms. Here were some of the findings

A new study finds university students in coed housing are 2.5 times more likely to binge drink every week. And no surprise, they’re also likely to have more sexual partners, the study found. Also, pornography use was higher among students in coed dorms.

I’ve lived in co-ed dorms my entire college career. I don’t binge drink (and don’t know many people who do), don’t sleep around, and don’t watch pornography. Instead, I’ve made friends with the guys on my hall–or totally ignored them. I’ve treated them exactly how I’ve treated the women who have lived on my halls. I found the title of the article to be odd as well. “No Surprise: Coed Dorms Fuel Sex and Drinking.” Never once have I thought, “Wow. A boy lives next door to me. I should drink this entire bottle of wine and watch some porn!” It seems to be implying that us lady-students are so easily influenced by the men in our dorms that we will sleep with them and binge drink. Like we don’t have any agency in our decision making processes and that the only way to protect us is for all the women to live in a cloistered nunnery.

I scrolled down to continue reading the article. I found it to be “no surprise” that the study was co-authored by a professor of “Family Life” at Brigham Young University (by the way, can I trade in my history major for one in “Family Life?”). The whole study seems suspect to me. First, who said sex and porn are necessarily bad? Maybe the students who choose to go to colleges that have co-ed dorms were more likely to have sex or watch porn to begin with. Or maybe schools that are open-minded enough to recognize that men and women (and those who do not conform to the gender binary) can co-exist also have students who are unashamed of the fact that they are sexually active or watch porn.

To close- there is one all-female dorm at Vassar. The women I know who live there (by choice or random assignation) are similar to other Vassar students: Strong, independent, and entirely capable of making their own decisions. And while many of them drink more heavily than the women living in the dorms, have multiple sexual partners, and actively enjoy porn, some choose to abstain from those activities. I seriously doubt that if they happened to live in the co-ed dorms they would change their behaviors.

-Lizy

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How I feel when I think about my thesis

Here’s the latest in Vassar College controversies:

On Saturday night, in the on-campus dance club/bar, a drunk student reached behind the bar and tried desperately to pour themselves a beer. They failed and broke the tap. Beer spurted everywhere and the bartender demanded that the Mug (the club) be closed for the night. This was at 12.3o. Soon, students began to complain about how their Saturday evening plans were ruined, and how the bartender threw a “hissy-fit” and acted “childish and unprofessional.” Students claimed that they should not be punished for the actions of one drunk student. Some students claimed that it was disregarding the integrity of the student population to close down the Mug for the night. Even though there has always been a sign on the door of the Mug stating that “The Mug will close for the evening if there is illegal activity,” students feel that this is infringing on their ability to have a good time.

Here’s my response:

Grow up. I’m sorry that the Mug was closed and you had to go somewhere else to grind up on someone. I’m sorry that the DJ’s set was ruined, and I’m sorry that the planned 2011 Mug Night was spoiled. But, for serious? Vassar College workers are being laid off, while Cappy is only taking a “symbolic” pay cut. The VC Rowing team has been cut. Town/Gown relations are more strained than ever and Vassar students were harassed when they tried to take part in local elections. Sexual abuse and violence are all but condoned and THIS is what we’re getting pissed about?

I’m glad that the student body has found something to be up in arms about. I just wish it was something that truly mattered.

-Lizy

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Hello from Vassar! What was once considered a place of political activism and a breeding ground for social change has turned into a place where students bicker and insult each other through the relative anonymity of the internet. When I was a sophomore, an anonymous message board was set up, and instead of it being a place for thoughtful discussion in a name-free environment (which is what this message board had become at other colleges), it turned into a place to insult other students and spread vicious rumors. After it was inevitably shut down, there was much complaining about “censorship,” In my college career, I’ve seen many controversies brew and diffuse, but too often the manner in which my fellow students behave is petty and childish. I suppose no such claim can be made without examples.

1. Kick Coke: Last fall, a movement began on the Vassar campus, as it did on many other college campuses. The movement called for the removal of Coca-Cola beverages from the dining halls and campus bookstore, due to concerns about the mistreatment of employees in South America. After much publicity, the matter was brought to a vote. After the VSA council (Vassar Student Association) voted to, in fact, kick Coke, the campus exploded. Over 200 comments were posted (mostly anonousmly) on the unofficial campus blog Madsvassarblog.com. Here are some selections

“Wow, I can’t believe I came to school filled with disgusting people like you guys.. it’s def. time for me to get out of here”

“CAN’T YOU ALL HEAR HOW APATHETIC, LAZY, AND SELFISH YOU SOUND?”

“In other words, stop being a pretentious self-righteous ass.”

“I mean, talk about rich, entitled elitist assholes, this moral crusade doesn’t really take into account those (poor) people who could lose jobs because of this.”

Some people may have made valid points, but they were over-powered by the masses. But this behavior was not confined to the internet. MICA, the Moderate, Independent, and Conservative Alliance, decided to not let the controversy die and set up a table in the College Center and handed out free cans of Coca-Cola products. Again, somewhat valid point, but a really obnoxious way to show it.

2. MICA and the 2008 election: This is a short one, but right before the Presidential election last fall, an email was sent out to the Vassar campus. It reminded us to not yell at, spit at, or verbally harass the members of MICA tabling in the College Center with information about the non-Obama candidate. I laughed for about a second and the realized how horrible it was that this email was necessary. In the next few weeks, I heard a rumor that the behavior that prompted the email came from not only students, but professors. I have no idea if this rumor was true, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

3. The removal of “The Backpage” from the Miscellany News: It was recently announced that the campus newspaper, The Miscellany News, would be discontinuing the “humor” section of the paper, called “The Backpage.” While sometimes funny, it often bordered on offensive. It was filled with inside jokes and gratuitous references to sex, drinking, and drug use–All things I have no problem with, but things that I feel might not be the things we should be including in a publication we show to parents and prospective students. After it was announced, Mads Vassar was flooded with comments, many of which personally attacked the former Editor-in-Chief of The Misc.

[Former EIC] and [Current EIC] are horrible people who wouldn’t know humor or journalism if it somehow managed to pull the gigantic stick that perpetually sits in their ass out.

SCREW THEM.

And, perhaps as an example of the content of “The Backpage,” the final editorial from last spring. The words that appear in bold were censored from the final publication. (Quoted from Mads Vassar)

“Politically incorrect humor on Vassar’s camps is like lesbian sex in a nunnery: everyone’s doing it, but they’re praying to Jesus that the public doesn’t find out.”

“While we wait for our Communist president to go before the U.N. and ask those cheese-eating surrender monkeys for a non-binding resolution to stop the genocide that’s happening right now on the third floor of Main Building, we, your outgoing Backpage editor and special correspondent, would like to briefly discuss the place of humor and censorship in a college newspaper. In the final version, “genocide” became “tragedies.”

Get it? We think you do, because we know you’re smart and you understand irony, unlike Carlos Mencia. Oh wait, we’re not allowed to make fun of him because he’s from Honduras and is retarded. So next year, assuming the hostage crisis in the Misc office has died down and we find a poor soul to replace us, tell your editors that you can handle a little humor dripping with irony, even if it crosses a few lines. And to the editors of the Misc: even though your paper will go under by the time you graduate, try to take some risks before Cappy sells your Macs and turns the office into a McDonald’s.”

There have also been many examples of when wide-spread discussions have led to positive results, like student opposition to the budget-based firings of campus employees. But too often we revert to pot shots and below the belt jabs. But I am also fully expecting to have some commenter on Mads Vassar refer to me as something not appropriate to post on this family blog.

-Lizy




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I suppose the time has come for me to write my inaugural post. Already, in the weeks and a half I’ve been at school, I’ve encountered a handful of minor crises. To start, there was what could be described as a monsoon as I moved into my Vassar-supplied house. But what was the worst of these crises was that my beloved thesis adviser recently decided that she needed to take a leave of absence for this semester. As I was also enrolled in a class she was teaching, I suddenly found myself without a thesis adviser, and with a hole in my schedule. The hole was patched easily enough–I’ve decided to fulfill my American history requirement with a class on African American history, pre-1865. Harder to fix was my lack of a thesis adviser. The history department at Vassar works very hard to match senior theses to professors with expertise in that area of history. I plan on writing my thesis on student revolutionaries in the 20th century (Prague in ’89, Paris in ’68, and the States in the ’60s). As such, it was difficult for the head of the department to find a professor who felt comfortable guiding my research. After a night spent combing the biographical blurbs of the professors provided on the department website, I was elated to hear that I had been assigned an adviser, and that I can keep my topic.

But senior year is not only about academic crises. Everywhere I go, I am reminded that in a few short months I will be joining the workforce. The Word document containing my resume has been open on my desktop for the last few weeks, subtly taunting me. Nothing can reduce a group of poised seniors to hysterics like asking what their future plans are. I keep telling myself that there is a lot of time for me to figure out how to approach the job market, but I know that once theater, clubs, and academics kick into swing, I’ll barely have a second to draft cover letters and search monster.com.

-Lizy

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