Bloomberg reports that Ivy League colleges everywhere are taking swift and vigorous action to suppress student misbehavior.
Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.
Harvard faculty voted last month to require registration of parties and ban drinking games, and Cornell ordered fraternities to have live-in advisers. This fall, Dartmouth began security checks at Greek houses and Princeton University banned freshmen from joining them.
The moves are the latest effort to regulate campus behavior since rules controlling students—known as in loco parentis—were abolished in the 1960s. Disobedience crested last year for Ivy League schools, which cost more than $50,000 a year to attend. A Dartmouth hazing article detailed rituals involving bodily fluids. A Cornell student died of alcohol poisoning, and Yale was hit with a discrimination complaint after fraternity members chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
“Colleges have been in an arms race to prove to students that they’re cool and give more freedom than the others,” said Lisa Wade, head of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Now, maybe the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.”
College students have come to equate the absence of boundaries with fun, said Wade, who studies the casual sex culture on campuses. That, combined with large amounts of alcohol easily available on campus, can skew students’ sense of what is acceptable or even normal.
There seems to be a tidal pattern about this sort of thing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when students were really riotous and disorderly in lifestyle and behavior, university administrators went home and hid under their beds, allowing student mobs to occupy administration buildings and even to shut down Yale a month before examinations and graduation.
Today, when students are meek and mild and cause little trouble, bold, brave deans react to every little contretemps that hits the newspapers the way the German Occupation reacted to the Warsaw Uprising.