August 20th, 2019

Reiss’s Pieces

By Judy Reiss

I went to a state college (now university) in New Jersey in 1957-58, and I went there because it was the only place I could afford. I had to work my own way through and although the costs were small, it still was hard for me to cover all my expenses. But, I have to tell you, I really liked it. And before I go on, I do want to tell you that I realize it was a long, long time ago and that things have certainly changed. However, I did not ride a horse to class or wash my clothes on a rock in the river! But there were rules!

Any man, including my father, wasn’t allowed on the dorm floors. I lived on the fourth floor, and he couldn’t even bring up my suitcase. Not only was alcohol not allowed, we couldn’t have coffee makers, popcorn poppers, or any other electrical appliances. We had to check in and out with the dorm mother and during the week. The rule was you had to be in by 10 p.m. On the weekends, it was 11 p.m., unless you got special permission to stay out until midnight. And this, my friends, was a state college! The only trouble that I ever got in was when I organized a revolt because the water wasn’t hot when we got back after play practice!

All four of my children went to the University of Vermont. Although Tobi graduated from Johnson, he decided to continue at UVM and get his R.N. Again, this is a state university that you and I are paying for with our taxes and the students are paying for too, at a huge cost, actually the most expensive state facility in the country! O.K., why am I talking about it? Well, let me tell you.

When my girls were there, it would appear that there were few, if any rules. Alcohol was not only tolerated, it was accepted. I hate to tell you how often I had to wash and clean the clothes that someone had either spilled beer all over or worst, threw up on them. And no one found that unacceptable! But for me, even worse, I would go to say hello and find my loved one sitting in the hall studying. When I asked why, it would be because their roommate was having sex in their room, so she had to sit outside until they were done. And don’t think that I didn’t try to have it stopped. Because I did, but to no avail. And almost worse, I talked to a friend the other day whose daughter goes to UVM now. She said her daughter’s roommate’s boyfriend had moved in and was living in their shared room. And he wasn’t even a student!

Did you know that UVM is known as the biggest party school in the country? Not the best school for an education but the best place to have parties, which include binge drinking and sex? Now that I am old and worse, on a fixed income, I find it hard to swallow that my taxes are going to allow young people to learn how to drink to excess, etc.

I firmly believe that my children got a good education at UVM, despite the drinking, sex and rock and roll. However, I did think that by now, since we know how far down on the educational pole our children graduate, that things might have changed. Drink on your own time at your own home, not at a state college that is designed to teach you all kinds of things, including how to become well-behaved and thinking adults. And for me, what is the worst part is that we are paying for a good part of their education! UVM is a Vermont state school and we should be proud of what it stands for and who and what type of people we graduate. I would much rather think that instead of being known as the best party school, UVM would be known for its ability to teach all aspects of growing up!

Am I wrong? Is alcohol and sex so pervasive in our culture today that it is to be tolerated in our prime place of learning? If so, just don’t make me pay for it. I am too old and have too little money to waste it that way.

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