Tuesday, August 23, 2005

UW-Madison #1 Party School: A Schulz Perspective

This morning around 8AM I was called by a writer from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram to talk about UW-Madison being #1 in the party rankings. I conversed with him about UW-Madison drinking and the alcohol climate while still half asleep. Hopefully I will not be verbally crucified by my friends and others when I return to my humble abode up north. Here is the article:

UW-Madison tops party school list
Tim Schulz knows drinking alcohol is ingrained in UW-Madison’s culture, with packed bars and house parties a common sight on weekends — especially during Badger games.

“Almost all the houses are throwing parties around the stadium,” said Schulz, an Eau Claire resident who will be a senior at UW-Madison this fall.

UW-Madison topped the list of the nation’s party schools Monday despite a decadelong effort by school officials to reduce its reputation for heavy drinking.

UW-Madison has ranked among the top party schools on the annual Princeton Review report in 13 out of the 14 years it has compiled the list and was No. 3 a year ago. Meanwhile, Brigham Young University was tops among “stone cold sober” schools for the eighth straight year.

Schulz, the son of Mark and Lynette Schulz, plans to graduate with a degree in economics. His sister Alison is going to be a sophomore when classes resume on Sept. 2.

While the administration opposes the ranking, Tim Schulz said the No. 1 ranking is a source of pride for many students.

Though the school has an association with drinking, he said it shows students have fun but also perform well enough to warrant high marks for UW-Madison in academic rankings.

UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley dismissed the report as “junk science that results in a day of national media coverage.” But the chairman of the campus student government said many students would take pride in the rank considering its other reputation as a top academic institution.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UW-Madison No. 34 among national universities in its annual survey last week.

“It just shows that we work hard, but we play hard also,” said Eric Varney, chair of the Associated Students of Madison.

The list — which is not affiliated with Princeton University — is based on on-line surveys of more than 110,000 college students and included in the Princeton Review’s “Best 361 Colleges.”

The top party schools rankings are based on survey responses regarding alcohol and drug use, hours of study each day, and the number of students in fraternities and sororities.

Schools often put down the list, while the American Medical Association has urged Princeton Review to cease putting it out, saying it legitimizes students’ drinking.

Lynette Schulz said the ranking as a top party school didn’t factor in to the family’s decision to have their children go to the same school her husband attended.

Still, she feels there is some basis for the rating.

“There is a lot of partying going on, and it doesn’t always make me real excited about it,” she said. “But it’s a good learning experience as well.”

Lynette Schulz and her son, Tim, agree the key to staying afloat at UW-Madison is to keep drinking in moderation and study as needed.

Robert Franek, who wrote the report “The Best 361 Colleges,” said students look for more than just a classroom experience when they pick a college.

“The mission is very simple — to provide information to make the college search palatable for a student and all of them to find a school that’s the best fit for them,” he said.

UW-Madison has long had a reputation for heavy drinking, ranking No. 3 this year for the amount of beer and hard liquor consumed. Still, the school touts its nine-year program to cut down on binge drinking they it says had led to a drop in students who drink to excess, fewer admissions to local detoxification centers and more freshmen who say they don’t drink at all.

Who will I serve? The Students

This last weekend the Student Service Finance Committee (which I was elected to last April) had its annual retreat which had its share of controversial moments and discussions. One inter-group conversation of particular note was the question of whether it was our obligation as committee members to have lobbying/discussion sessions with GSSF groups (the groups that are eligible for SSFC funding)? One member (Rep Kiernoziak) expressed her opinion saying that we were not obligated to meet with these GSSF groups and that it was for the groups’ benefits and not ours. Then quickly two other group member voiced their opinion on how we should be obligated to meet with these groups for lobbying sessions and that we as committee members were the main beneficiaries. I spoke after reaffirming Kiernoziak’s opinion that we were not obligated to meet with these groups and that lobbying was primarily for the GSSF group’s interests. One member of the dissenting side quickly tried to end discussion either because she did not want things to get heated or she did not want to fight a losing battle. This small quarrel about a fairly trivial issue is really about a more important issue. The real issue is about who we are serving as SSFC members: the GSSF groups or the students?

Here is why I am serving the students:

1. As an SSFC elected official, I was chosen by the students to represent them and their money on the committee. The rest of the representatives were either elected directly by the students, came out ASM Council (which all were elected), or were appointed by elected officials through the Nominations Board. We were all chosen indirectly or directly by the students so I feel it is our job to serve them. We were not chosen by GSSF groups to allocate their money.

2. This money is not anybody else’s money but the students. Every student pays SEG fees each year ($612 out of tuition) and SSFC has the power to dole out around $100 to $200 of it out to groups on campus. This money has not been entrusted to GSSF Groups to allocate it amongst themselves. This money also should not be entrusted with SSFC Committee Members who are members of these groups or are subject to the interests of these groups. The money should be entrusted to people that are completely objective and will use the money to fund groups making a difference on campus. If not then the money should not be used at all and given back to the students.

3. My job is not to meet with the GSSF groups and tell them how to use their money. My job rather is to look at their budget and make changes and cuts in order that tuition money is used wisely and effectively. I will meet with GSSF groups if they want to speak to me but I am not required to by job description. I can make my own decisions on budgets without speaking to them and that will probably be the case for many of the groups.

4. Observe the name: “Student Service Finance Committee”. I am not a member of the GSSF Service Finance Committee or the Special Interests Finance Committee. I am not sure if all committee members are part of the Student Service Finance Committee but I can assure you I am.

I will continue to influence the committee to work towards serving the students. The money you pay in for SEG fees should be used responsibly. I will fight for complete objectivity within the committee and make sure your money is not being fed to groups in the name of special and selfish interests.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Political Conversation on Campus

It is easy to get into political conversations on the UW campus whether it be at a coffee shop, the classroom, or house party. What is not easy to do is to take conservative positions on issues in these political discourses. When you may simply be taking a pro-business or pro-life stance, extreme scrutiny of not just your position but of you as a person begins to take place. Explicit and implicit judgments of greed, intolerance, narrow mindedness, and disregard will thus inhibit constructive disagreement and discussion. Instead of listening and considering particular points or statistics, many Madisonians will simply get emotional and resort to generic liberal talking points such as:

“Don’t you care about the poor”

“Not everyone can succeed in the world”

“All people deserve equal rights”

“A woman can decide what to do with her body”

“The tax cut was a give away to the wealthiest Americans”

“We need to be tolerant of everybody”

“We need clean air and water so we must stop polluters from damaging our environment”

Instead of providing objective evidence to back up their points they resort to language that contains little substance and is rather based on feelings and sentiment. John Leo, a conservative writer for US News & World Report captured his discussions with liberal colleagues in this way:

Finally, I reluctantly report that liberal friends basically reject give-and-take political discussion. Their positions are typically posed in the language of feelings or the language of rights. Either way, there is nothing much to debate--feelings are personal and rights are beyond the reach of argument and majority decision making. My liberal friends are polite and tolerant, but their opinions reflect a body of remarkably settled thought that leaves little room for dissent or new ideas. To their token conservative friends (that’s me), they seem ever more isolated from the thoughts and concerns of their fellow Americans.

The truth is that many liberals on UW’s campus are as intolerant and narrowminded as conservatives across the country. They do not listen to objective evidence unless it supports their opinion and they tend to shy away from media outlets and particular people that may challenge their views. However, I do know certain individuals that lean left who do listen to differing viewpoints, like to challenge their beliefs, and understand people differ on the role of government. The important point to draw from this piece is that in order to have legitimate political conversations we must be speaking in statistics and logic rather than rhetoric, feelings, and emotions. Hopefully, many of the leftists on campus will learn to sift and winnow and converse with objectivity and understanding rather than with emotional rhetoric and personal attacks.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hate Capitalism--Head to the Sociology Department

Liberal Class of the Year Award: Sociology 125

--"Socialism is the only way"---Erik Wright

Actually he did not say this but go on his class website and see how his class is run, the articles posted on the site, and the lecture powerpoints. How could you come to any other conclusion? Here are the main ideas that he wants you to get from his course. Biased?? I'll let you decide.

Sociology 125 Website: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Sociology-125-2004.htm

1. The U.S. is a Hypercapitalist Society: The U.S. is extreme on most dimensions of capitalism.
2. The market: Markets are not automatically efficient; they have inherent irrationalities.
3. The Market and Freedom: Markets both enhance and restrict freedom.
4. The Prisoners Dilemma and free riders: These are pervasive issues in contemporary society and undermine optimal levels of social cooperation.
5. The Market & Prisoner's dilemmas: The relatively unregulated markets in the United States intensify prisoners dilemmas and free riding problems.
6. Inequality and poverty: Poverty is an American tragedy because it constitutes a clear case of avoidable suffering, especially in the lives of children.
7. The incomplete revolutions of Race and Gender: In the United States over the past forty years there has been significant movement towards race and gender equality, but continuing forms of eliminable discrimination continue.
8. Democracy: American Democracy is real, but crippled by the political power of wealth and money.
9. Social Institutions can be Otherwise: We must reject TINA.
10. Alternative futures: There are many possible futures. Human flourishing will be enhanced by extending and deepening democracy in egalitarian ways.