Friday, November 02, 2007

Airing dirty laundry

Two days in a row I saw actual celebrities in the vicinity of Celebrity Bakery (the Highland Park cookie-teria where I often meet a friend for afternoon tea and gab). Wayne "The Great One "Gretzy strolled by, hand-in-hand with his six-foot-tall, six-inch-wide wife Janet on Wednesday. He's a golden god, that guy.

Yesterday, who comes waddling along, looking like a smug little pouter pigeon? Lynn Cheney, wife of Darth Vader. Trailing her were four obvious Secret Service agents. Earpieces, same green pin in lapel, same black shoes, the works. Isn't "secret" an important part of that job title? They couldn't have been more conspicuous if they'd been dressed like the Village People.

They even put sharpshooters on the rooftops of HP Village while the Cheneys shopped for hunting accoutrements in the Berretta boutique. Duck, y'all, Dick's a bad aim!

So much news coming off the Hill these days. Buh-bye, lousy football coach Phil Bennett. That half-million-dollar salary worth it? That's per year, per losing season. Jesus. Makes you ill, doesn't it? Remember, we adjuncts often teach for as little as 12K per academic year for a full load of undergrad classes. That's about 200 bucks a week after taxes to try to put something worthwhile into those lunkheads on the football team. Something they'll actually need to know--like, how to write a cogent sentence--after they somehow graduate from college after five or six or seven years. If they graduate at all. I'll never forget the star running back who bluffed his way through all of my writing classes, then capped off his senior year (before heading to the Tennessee Titans) by plagiarizing an interview from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes magazine. Nice work!

The topic of the football team budget came up during a chat with a nice lady I met recently at the laundromat. She and her husband were both employees of the College on the Hill for nearly 30 years. Her husband was part of the campus security force--the coppers, the fuzz, the uniformed constabulary who write the tickets for un-stickered parked cars and ride around the campus after hours picking up passed out frat boys and ferrying them back to Greek Row.

Mrs. Badge, as I'll call her, remembered some interesting incidents her husband encountered over the years. On-campus rapes, stabbings, overdoses, fistfights. The usual. "My husband really cared about the students way back when," she said. "There was sort of an understanding that if you didn't press charges for underage drinking or a minor drug thing, the parents would take care of it. The kid would leave school and get help."

All that changed around 10 years ago, she said. "The school became a large corporation and that corporate mentality took over. These wealthy parents didn't want to hear about problems. They blamed the school if their kids were drunk or on drugs. They'd sue if you tried to tell them their son or daughter...well, they didn't want to hear it. Nobody wanted the responsibility. The school certainly didn't. So the security guys were stuck. Try to be understanding and give a kid a break and they'd get hammered by the administration. Try to press charges or make a legal issue of bad behavior and the parents would get angry. That's why my husband retired. He didn't like what he was seeing."

Drug usage was getting much worse, she said. And the drugs weren't just pot and coke. Heroin was more common. Crystal meth came in. Students burglarized each other's dorm rooms and cars to steal ADD drugs and tranquilizers.

Mrs. Badge followed the news of the drug-and-alcohol-related deaths on the campus last year. "It's only going to get worse," she said. "The school will try to say they're doing prevention programs. They'll get the public relations going. But these kids up there have too much money. They've never been told no in their lives. Their parents are putting enormous pressure on them. I feel like it's all changed and not for the better. It's pretty sad."

The house where the Badges lived and raised their two children (now grown) has been razed to make way for the Bush Library. "There's not a trace of the place left," said Mrs. Badge with a deep sigh. "Nothing over there is like it used to be."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never seen heroin or crystal meth at SMU, nor have I ever seen it in the police reports. If they are problems, they certainly are not problems in the greek scene.

I actually haven't seen cocaine either, but I know it's around... the vast majority of students are not into it. Despite what is said, I don't think it's a huge part of the party scene at SMU at all. I see pot a lot, though, but I guess that's in every school.

It seems like the SMU police are just kind of out to get students when it comes to drinking... I had a 20-year-old friend who was walking quietly back to her dorm from the bus after having maybe two beers. She wasn't causing trouble, and she wasn't drunk. The police came up to her and asked if she had been drinking. She admitted she had a few drinks, but she was sober. They gave her a minor in consumption. I totally agree giving somebody a ticket for being obviously intoxicated or being rowdy, but I think it's silly to give a girl a ticket for doing nothing.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I should add a link to this post. It has to do with alcohol awareness efforts on SMU's campus. It makes me so angry.

I go to SMU and I disagree with the above poster... shall we pull up the sad case of Jake Stiles?

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the first poster and I'm not saying that something shouldn't be done about the university's problems with alcohol. There absolutely should be steps we take to prevent any other deaths from happening. I just don't see a vast usage of any other drugs (other than pot) on this campus. Cocaine is around, and I could probably find it if I looked, but it exists in more isolated situations. I wouldn't consider it a part of the Greek scene any more than I would consider it part of the general student's scene.

One thing the task force really should work on is the use of Adderoll, like the comments in your link suggest. I was prescribed by my doctor because I actually have ADHD, and when people found out, I was continuously asked if I would sell it to them. I never did, but I eventually went off my medication just because the begging got so insane. I have only read the first few comments on there, so I don't know if they all have good suggestions.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Mike M. said...

I think it would be great to eliminate the football program at my alma mater, SMU. But we know that's not going to happen. That being said, I think firing Phil Bennett is a travesty. His graduation rate for players is among the highest in the nation -- around 75%. Higher than the university as a whole.

Unfortunately, at least for his job security, Phil took the University at his word when they told him that they wanted a clean program that stressed character. He actually benched his starting quarterback last year after he got in a scuff with a fellow student and the team narrowly lost the ensuing game without the player. His offense? Not the scuffle itself. Instead, the quarterback used a politically incorrect word when referring to the other student's alleged sexual orientation.

So apparently any pretense of academic achievement and character building are out on the Hilltop. Instead, we're back to the win at any cost attitude that brought the death penalty on us. Very sad. Phil Bennett is a good man whose primary mistake was to believe what he was told.

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh but money comes from parents and donors, who in turn care for best interests of students and staff. In turn, they should care about their interest when they go and condone such behaviour. Not that there is anything wrong with the university as such.

Great deal, I hope you make it without having to pull your tee.



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I loved your review of the New York Scent situation thing, and mind you, it is a very recurring thing.




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