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Feeling Sluggish: Perhaps Monty Python was right about Plato.


Drunken Math?

Last year, the Princeton Review rated UCSC as the No. 3 party school in the country, but that doesn't mean that UCSC's motto "Fiat Lux" translates to "Let there be light, so I can see where the keg is."

That at least was the point campus officials seemed to be trying to make at a town-gown meeting last week. As UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood put it, "A lot of students come thinking drinking is not only acceptable, but encouraged, which is not true. We need to promote how real people act most of the time."

But just how do "real people" act? And are real people the same as students? And does someone have a calculator? Because something in this dizzying array of statistics does not add up--apparently a helluva lot of students are drinking themselves under the table, only most of them aren't from UCSC, but actually no one's really quite certain about that.

One thing's for sure: with keg parties banned on campus since 1989, drinking parties have largely moved off-campus and down the hill--thereby attracting high school kids as well as college students from Cabrillo and UCSC.

Santa Cruz Chief of Police Steve Belcher reported that his officers get called out to an average of 2 to 10 party calls per night on weekends.

"It's not unusual to find houses jammed with 200 to 300 kids and situations dramatically fueled by binge drinking," said Belcher. Binge drinking was defined during the meeting as four drinks for females, five for males in one sitting.

"We don't have a way to track everybody, but especially on the West Side, seven to 10 calls involve university students," said the chief. "Big parties used to be unusual, but that all changed with the advent of email."

Councilmember Ed Porter, who teaches at Santa Cruz High, said the stories of Friday and Saturday night parties are terrifying to him. Said a worried-looking Porter, "I hear plans for parties being discussed on Wednesdays, and now we hear from the chief of police about three-bedroom houses suddenly full of 200 to 300 students, all getting falling down drunk and participating in other illegal substances."

The SCPD's figures suggest that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of real students could be consuming hundreds of thousands of real beers on a really boozed-up weekend.

But UCSC's Michael Dorenzo, who oversees the campus' alcohol-abuse prevention program, said most UCSC students drink moderately, or don't drink at all.

Citing last year's Harvard School of Public Health survey, Dorenzo said 60 percent of UCSC students surveyed reported that they either don't drink at all, or drink four or fewer drinks per week. Which translated into "real people" would mean that out of UCSC's 12,000 students, 7,200 don't overindulge, but 4,800 do, which doesn't exactly make for a really sober campus.

Still, as Dorenzo readily admitted, "the survey sample was really very small, which is why it's great that UCSC is going to participate in a five-year federal study on student behavior and alcohol."

Asked how many of the students caught drinking off-campus are from UCSC, Dorenzo said legal protection currently prevents that information from being gathered.

"We need to talk about student drinking as a community concern rather than a UCSC problem, " said Dorenzo.

Noting that alcohol, tobacco and pot are the top three abused substances on campus, Dorenzo questioned the accuracy of the Princeton Review party-school rating.

"It's not associated with Princeton University, and appears to be conducted mainly by doing tabling in high visibility places on campus," he said. "It isn't a scientific study."

The only thing Nüz can really say for sure is that after all this math, we need a beer.

Emily's Pacing

The City Council has approved Pace car stickers for residents who pledge to respect 25 mph zones, which got Nüz wondering what happens if a Pace car driver gets a ticket for speeding. Will they get fined double?

"Not yet," said Councilmember Emily Reilly, who participates in the Pace car program. "But you'd be shamed, shamed! Imagine if I got a ticket? I 'd be on the front page of all the newspapers!"

Oh, don't tempt us, Emily. Anyway, traffic engineering technician Desiree Douville of the Public Works Department points out that Pace cars aren't the only aspect of the city's traffic plan.

"We have a speed trailer which the police uses, and a speed watch in which people can check out radar guns. We also have door hangers and lawn signs," said Douville. "Most of the people speeding in your neighborhood live in it."

Traffic circles are another, apparently less popular, aspect of the plan. These low-lying roundabouts, which sit in the center of four-way junctions, are intended to slow traffic down. But one such circle was recently removed from the West Side, after neighbors complained.

"They fought it, so we're replacing it with a crosswalk," says Douville, making Nüz wonder if monster trucks run right over or swerve around traffic circles, which are popular in England, but then everyone there drives Minis, don't they? Meanwhile, one of the remaining West Side traffic circles is decorated with tiles by kids from Gateway School, and features a working sundial. Too bad it can't clock speeders.

For info on Pace cars, call 420.5160 or check out the Public Works Dept. at the city's website: www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us.

Fire Alarm

With State Parks officials about to hold a hearing on whether to reduce or eliminate bonfires at Seabright, Twin Lakes, New Brighton, Rio del Mar, Manresa, Sunset and Palm beaches, Pack Your Trash director Ray Conti has this message for y'all:

"A lot of people think, what better way to get rid of pallets, beer bottles and other stuff at the beach than with a fire. And then they cover it with sand to hide and put it out, but you end up with people stepping on buried burning embers. And nails don't melt."

Conti says that a guy with a metal detector recently collected a 30-pound bag of nails at the beach. And Conti once gave a girl a ride to Dominican Hospital after she stepped on a buried fire and a bottle exploded on her foot.

"I like beach fires, too, but I have to practice what I preach, so whatever you take to the beach for a fire, take the nails out of it--and pack your trash! Pack it in, pack it out! Respect the beach and the people who use it in the day as well as the night!" Conti invites you to join Pack Your Trash June 1 for their Second Annual Here Comes Summer Beach Cleanup, 8:30am-noon at Elizabeth's Market, 2-3040 East Cliff and 32nd Avenue. Call 465.8645. As for the beach fire hearing, that takes place Wednesday, June 5, 7pm at Live Oak Elementary School (Capitola Road and 17th Avenue).

Nüz Loves Tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the May 29-June 5, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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