|The Land Grant Mission
I have just finished reading the Presidents Perspective in the fall issue and want to congratulate President Ramaley on her understanding of the land grant college and the land grant mission. Few of our former presidents have articulated the mission as concisely as she, if indeed they agreed with her interpretation.
For at least a quarter century, most faculty and administrators
of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have recognized
the need for their students to enroll in a significant number
of courses in the liberal arts and other disciplines. I dont
know what present curricula require, but when I retired, courses
required and elected outside of the college often comprised more
than half of the students programs. Unfortunately, students in
other colleges of the university, and especially in Arts and Sciences,
were restricted in the number of courses they could enroll in
outside of their college, or, if not so restricted, were not encouraged
to enroll in courses in other colleges.
If these restrictions and attitudes still persist, it seems to
me that they seriously limit our ability to, in President Ramaleys
words, carefully introduce our students to the strengths and
limitations of each domain of knowledge as well as the contents
and methodologies of different disciplines
One Alums Wish List
Lowering the drinking age
May I remind her that prior to 1987, the collected wisdom of the
United States was to lower the drinking age to eighteen so as
to eliminate the need to drive to neighboring states to consume
alcohol, and encourage responsible local drinking among our youth.
The results of this thoughtful liberalization was unprecedented
carnage on the roads of our youth who bought alcohol locally and
went to neighboring states to party. The increase of death by
auto was so dramatic and terrifying that the majority of state
legislatures endorsed the return to the twenty-one age limit.
A professor of Applied Health Science at Indiana University should
get her history correct before she advocates return to the past
and is forced to relive some very unpleasant events. I, for one,
soundly oppose a return to a younger age limit for alcohol. On
the other hand, I do agree that we need a new culture concerning
alcohol, and that Europe does show us an excellent model.
Unfortunately, the alcohol culture is so ingrained in our culture
that it will take at least two generations to alter it. Lets
alter it and change the thinking, before we tragically alter the
next generation with intolerable highway driving alcohol related
Professor Ruth Engs replies:
In addition, I have a new book which will be out later this year,
published by Praeger, entitled Clean Living Movements: American
Cycles of Health Reform, which also addresses alcohol prohibition
from a perspective of more than two hundred years.
Since 1987, when the alcohol purchase laws were raised, there
has been an increase in various social, personal, and legal problems
related to alcohol use among college students.The only area where
there has been continuous decrease has been in the area of drinking
and driving.The raising of the drinking age has resulted in drinking
in unsupervised settings such as off-campus student housing among
youth under twenty-one years of age. These students are exhibiting
heavy drinking and rebelling against the law as individuals
often do when something is prohibited due to reactance. The
more we clamp down the worse the situation is likely to get, as
was found in the 1920s.
Therefore, to avoid increasing problems, based upon sociological
and historical research, I recommend that the drinking age be
lowered for youth to obtain alcohol in supervised and controlled
settings only. This would allow them to learn by role modeling
responsible and moderate behaviors. In other words, youth would
not be allowed to buy beer in off-premise stores to take home.
They would only be allowed to consume alcohol in restaurants,
taverns, pubs, and would be expected to exhibit responsible behaviors.
Social and/or legal sanctions would be carried out against those
who consumed alcohol in an irresponsible or dangerous manner.
Certain restrictions such as being a state resident, a student
at a university, or even a license to drink that had an educational
component could be implemented.
In addition, we need to develop, as suggested by Dr. Bessoff,
a more continental attitude towards alcohol
I never found alcohol to be any part of my four-year college experience
at UVM. I abstained completely, having been raised in a family
that was opposed to drinking. It never occurred to me that alcohol
would be a part of my college education. In fact, during my
college years, my heart sank one morning when I awoke to learn
that a member of a fraternity on campus had been found dead after
a night of drinking. I felt so badly, especially for his parents
and family who must now face this tragedy: a son whose life was
lost because of alcohol.
It is reassuring to know and I commend the many groups who are
collaborating to help resolve this pressing issue on college campuses.
The results of their efforts will be realized in time.
My only desire is that this study would not only reach present
and future students on college campuses, but it would also filter
down into the families, the moms and dads, the grandparents, the
siblings, aunts and uncles, and friends who have been, are, and
will continue to be a strong influence on their lives. We cannot
hold the students or participating groups entirely responsible
for a successful outcome of this unfortunate situation on college
campuses without families setting a good example in the first
The cover photo on the Winter 1999 issue captured my immediate
attention and I abandoned my normal habit of reading Class Notes
first in favor of reading every article regarding alcohol abuse
among students and UVMs efforts to deal with that challenge.
And a great challenge it is. The road will be long, winding, steep
and often slippery but recognition and admission of the problem
are the two requisite first steps toward resolution.
I am not inferring that a significant correlation exists among
sports, student drinking and alumni behavior. However it is interestingly
descriptive of our culture to realize that, unless one goes to
Gutterson Arena in Burlington or to Megs house in Overland, Kansas,
the telecast of our Hockey Cats vs. Cornell can be viewed only
in breweries, pubs, and sports bars across the nation.
I read with interest your most recent issue based on my own experience,
and the concern for my oldest son who is experiencing firsthand
the freedoms associated with college life.
I first enrolled at UVM in the fall of 1975 and promptly obtained
a membership in the Friday Afternoon Drinking Club (FADC). A typical
week included going to a Burlington bar on Thursday night, the
FADC Friday afternoon, and partying at a dorm, fraternity, or
local bar on both Friday and Saturday nights. Needless to say,
three consecutive days of drinking did not fit in well with my
studies, and I began to miss assignments and stopped attending
class. I left UVM in the fall of 1976 having failed miserably
as a student and as a person. Eventually, I returned to complete
my degree at UVM as a non-traditional student, but it just wasnt
the same. I regret the first go round and hope that my son doesnt
repeat my mistakes.
It is important for UVM to take a stand on the issue of drinking.
It is an uphill battle because so much of our culture depends
on drinking as a way to socialize. How ironic it is that in your
own magazine devoted to college alcoholism, the Alumni Office
runs an advertisement to attend a UVM hockey game at your favorite
local bar. The photos of satisfied alumni all show them smiling
with drinks in hand! I think that the hill is very steep.
Lastly, I would encourage UVM to adopt John Bramleys idea of
notifying parents of a student who abuses drugs or alcohol. Young
people with problem behavior need help and are not likely to seek
it on their own. Who better to help them than those who love them
most. Dont be afraid to involve all who can help. It isnt an
education that is at stake, it is a life.
I read with great interest the articles in the Winter 1999 issue,
including your editorial. As a recovering alcoholic who drank
my way through UVM, I was glad to see this problem is being taken
seriously. I have been sober 23 years. Even after all this time
my lack of good grades and the wonderful opportunities I missed
will haunt me. I cannot go back, but I can assure any of the students
that are doing what I did while I was there, that getting sober
is the smart thing. Do not wait until it is too late. UVM offers
so much that it is a shame to miss it because of intoxication,
hangovers etc. I am looking forward to followup on these fine
articles. I would be glad to contribute if you decide to do something
using alum experience. Thank you.
Congratulations on the excellent Sobering Facts feature in the
winter issue of Vermont Quarterly. I will share it with The Ohio
36 project directors at their meeting later this month. The
Ohio 36 is a coalition of four-year colleges and universities
working together to address binge drinking via the environmental
public health focus on changing campus and community cultures.
The Ohio Binge Drinking Prevention Initiative began in 1996 with
19 participants. It has grown to 36 institutions members, 10 public
and 26 private. Each college forms a campus/community coalition;
assesses the existing culture, issues, and challenges; establishes
and implements an action plan; and actively shares with fellow
coalition members. Funding for administrative support has been
through the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services,
the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, the Higher Education
Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and Ohio Parents
for Drug Free Youth.
The Vermont Quarterly, by stating clearly and openly the student
alcohol use/abuse situation at UVM and the steps being taken to
address the issue, has taken an important step in alerting and
including the whole university family. Thank you!
Good morning! Always nice to get your publication and be reminded
of some formative times!
This particular issue, however, contains one glaring incongruity.
In among the several articles discussing the alcohol situation
on campus termed a problem what should appear in the ad
for UVM hockey on page 27, but students (presumably) gathered
to watch the game (presumably) around a table laden with what
appear to be empty glasses nestled in their napkins.
Im well aware that alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation (although
many college students are still discovering what that means in
practical real-world terms) and that the major responsibility
rests on the individual to regulate themselves. I also recognize
that sponsorship (in various guises) of some sports derives from
alcohol-related industries and they deserve an opportunity to
However, I feel you made an unfortunate selection of imagery to
go with that ad. Why couldnt you have found a photo without all
those glasses in such prominent view? Obviously, these kids have
been at it pretty enthusiastically! Hardly consistent from the
universitys perspective explored throughout the bulk of the rest
of this issue.
At least the other photo highlights camaraderie with the beer
glasses barely visible in two of the young mens hands, while
the other man is not shown with any drink. Of course, staging
lets a photographer set up the image any way he wants
but my concern
here is the image that makes it to the printed page, however contrived.
In my estimation, you blew it this time.
Wishing you continued success in the new year.
I just received the Winter issue of the Vermont Quarterly and,
as usual, great job. The articles on alcohol abuse are great,
and President Ramaleys Perspective is refreshing, and thank you,
However, its unfortunate that the centerfold shows the UVM Hockey
Face-Off 99 and the first thing we see is the party and beer
on page 27. OOPS! Wrong magazine and definitely the wrong issue
to show those pictures! Hope theyre of age.
By the way, to the guy in the back with the pom-pom on his head
drinking milk-way to go.
This must be the best way to keep the drunks away from the ice?
Seventy-five percent, or more, of the games are to be televised
at a sports BAR! Is this responsible journalism? Do the authors
know you followed up their articles with a picture of seven people
at a sports bars cheering on the Catamounts with drinks in hand?
Your Winter 1999 issue, with its focus on college drinking, was
aptly highlighted by two photos of inebriated college students,
beers in hand and appropriately red-eyed, advertising the UVM
Hockey Face-Off on page 27.
Amplifying the ironic juxtaposition of the photos of red-eyed
UVM students (or perhaps recent alumni) carousing while watching
the Catamount hockey team on satellite television at their favorite
bar (contrasted with the overly serious articles in the rest of
the magazine on student drinking and alcoholism in general) is
the two-page list of three dozen sports bars across the country
where UVMers can get drunk together while cheering on their school
Your series of articles in the Winter 1999 Quarterly concerning
alcohol use and abuse on college campuses was very timely and
thought-provoking. However, you missed the mark when you placed,
immediately following the discussion of responsible alcohol use,
an advertisement for the UVM Hockey Face-Off held almost exclusively
at bars and featuring photos of UVM alums with drinks in hand.
In her column, President Ramaley says the university has to take
seriously the challenge of changing societal expectations about
drinking. A little alert editing by your staff would have helped
meet this challenge.