Five by 8 – 4/2/10: Binge-drinking and censorship in St. Peter

1) No students have died from binge drinking recently in the Mankato-St. Peter area, so we haven’t heard much about the reputation of schools there for drinking festivals. A Mankato Free press blog entry, however, suggests not much has changed. At Gustavus Adolphus, its blog reports, there’s been backlash against a student newspaper article on “case day,” in which students try to drink a case of beer in 24 hours.

The Gustavian Weekly, the campus’ student newspaper, ran a feature on the tradition that included comments from various folks on and off campus who had something to say about it. And after it was published, student Mary Cunningham (and others, apparently) removed a bunch of papers because, it has been reported, they didn’t want visiting prospective students and their families to get the wrong idea about Gustavus.

Last month, the newspaper printed this follow-up editorial:

Finally, whether community members agree or disagree with the issues we talk about, or our decision to publish an article on a specific topic, it is important to respect our right as a press organization to talk about these difficult topics. Throwing away newspapers is censorship of The Weekly, and hence the students’ voice on campus. When people choose to censor the students’ voice on important issues like binge drinking, it silences a problem and does not allow us to discuss productively, which is what we, as an educational institution, need to do.

The upshot? There could be a community-wide discussion about binge drinking. Instead it’s having one about censorship.

By the way, kids, you’ve grown up when you start trying to do healthier things within a time deadline.

Another student newspaper, this one at American University, has sparked an uproar because of a column about date rape.

“Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI [fraternity] party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?” columnist Alex Knepper, 20, wrote in the Eagle, the school paper.

“To cry ‘date rape’ after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger,” he said.

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2) Via Twitter last evening, I asked News Cut readers to submit their favorite item to today’s 5X8. Two are health related.

Veronica Jacobsen writes:

I know there has been some good coverage of the rising c-section rate on MPR. Some of it (if you actually read the care papers) is due to the impulse to induce for no reason, some of it is the impulse to section for no reason. Here’s what happens when the care providers do what is automatic, and simply do not think. So many questions: Why didn’t they confirm the pregnancy? They had no idea of gestational age (if the woman had been pregnant). They had no prenatal records. This blows my mind!!!!

Bonnie Russ writes:

You might want to make mention that April 2 is Worldwide Autism Awareness Day. I posted something on facebook, it seems to affect almost every family I know in one way or another.

A good time to revisit a program that’s one-year old today — the Sensory Friendly Film Program

A regular at the screenings is Marianna Pollock of Virginia Beach, Va., and her six-year-old son, Xander. “We attempted a regular movie a few times,” says Pollock. “We always ended up having to leave within the first 15 minutes because Xander gets so excited that he flaps and makes noise. It was very stressful.”

3) In the wake of a girl’s suicide in western Massachusetts because of bullying that adults couldn’t or wouldn’t step in to stop, Boston is trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

But as the offending Facebook pages come down, new ones go up. Ranny Bledsoe — principal of Charlestown High School, one of the most severely afflicted schools — said, “It seems to be an absolute epidemic.”

Nearly 10 percent of the 900 students at Charlestown High have been victimized, Bledsoe said. Students targeted on the Facebook pages say they have been taunted and laughed at by classmates.

What’s Facebook’s responsibility in this “modern crime?” Slate tackles the question today in asking whether social networking sites should do a little less to protect the perps — maybe turn over information without a search warrant?

Why do we have this rule? “For the same reason we should be able to use the phone or send an e-mail without worrying that the government will access it without probable cause,” Bankston said. “We live in a society that allows us to take advantage of technology, and use it privately, without worrying about government invasion.” That seems pretty clear and, depending on your politics, of course, probably sounds like a good thing. But Bankston says that courts haven’t actually ruled yet on how the protection of user content in ECPA applies to social network sites. There’s a pro-privacy ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, holding that the pager company Arch Wireless shouldn’t have turned over the text messages of a cop to his employer. (Another aspect of the case, City of Ontario v. Quon, is on appeal to the Supreme Court.) But sites like Facebook, of course, are different. There are the messages you send to one other person on Facebook, the posts that all of your friends can see, and the posts or pages that you make public.

Minnesota dipped its big toe in all of this a few years ago when the Legislature required school districts to develop a policy on cyberbullying. But it gave no guidance to the districts on how they can police the actions of kids who often are posting offensive material from the comfort of their bedrooms.

4) How nanoscience will change your life:

(h/t: Open Culture)

5) Maybe iPad is all the cool kids can think about right now. I want one of these babies.

But perhaps the answer is to start small, with a do-it-yourself T-shirt-folding machine.

Bonus: Perspective explained. A man in the Bronx clears his mind by watching the gut-wrenching, anger-brewing, time-wasting, brain-clouding lives of people stuck in traffic jams. I feel a News Cut live-blogging opportunity coming on.


For Christians, today is Good Friday. For Jews, tonight is the fifth night of Passover. If you were raised in a faith, do you still practice it?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Some of the most heated rhetoric in the battle over health care reform revolved around the impact on Medicare and seniors. Now that the health care reform bill is law, what can seniors expect?

Second hour: The Ethisphere Institute is out with its 2010 list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. New York Times’ resident ethicist, Randy Cohen talks about business ethics and making informed choices as a consumers.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Doug Grow, former sportswriter and author of “We’re Gonna Win, Twins!”

Second hour: 12 – Scholar and author Mark Stoler discusses Gen. George Marshall, the architect of the plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – It’s Science Friday ! First hour: It’s the early 1900s, and you’re looking to murder someone. What’s your weapon of choice? Poison, of course. Ira Flatow talks with Deborah Blum, author of “The Posioner’s Handbook.”

Second hour: The buzz on beekeeping, and why some Western states are bracing

for a grasshopper invasion.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The Twins are playing their first game — an exhibition game — at Target Field. It’s the first chance for us to find out whether rush hour and a baseball game can play nice. MPR’s Jess Mador will have the story.

MPR’s Brandt Williams will report on whether the neighborhood around Target Field can get a boost. They said that’s what would happen around the Metrodome, but it never did. And Gameworks in Block E couldn’t hang on, despite the promise of more traffic from the field.

In a Vermont town straddling the Canadian border, U.S. agents handcuffed a man they caught strolling in from the north. Buzzy Roy walked the route he and other local Vermonters have used for decades to run errands. Now he’s become a local hero to residents on both sides of the border. The cross-border dispute that’s fired up a sleepy New England town.