Early during my freshman year of college, in 1989, I was sitting in the student center when a reporter from the school paper walked up and asked me whether I would be interested in talking to her for an article she was working on about the social life on campus. I made the mistake of agreeing, on record. Her story was about the dangers of underage drinking, and what might be done about the problem. One of my own roommates had spent a recent night in the hospital, having his stomach pumped to avoid alcohol poisoning. But I used the opportunity to mount an attack on the school’s policy of disallowing kegs inside dorm rooms. I talked about freedom and trust and how unfair it was that we 18-year-olds could go to war and die for our country but we were not allowed to legally drink—and how the college should let us do whatever we wanted in the privacy of our dorm rooms. I was quoted for a full paragraph of this serious and impassioned argument, and ended on the point that the administration must know that we were going to have kegs in our dorm rooms anyway, and so the policy amounted to something like entrapment. I’m sure I sounded very stupid to any real adult who might have read the article. I was fine with how it looked in print when I saw it, but within a few years, I was embarrassed.
Apparently, college kids have gotten smarter.
As many of the students quoted in the extremely unflattering account of campus life in today’s Times were savvy enough to offer fake names while they let a 38-year-old reporter sit in on their Herculean drinking sessions and record the sadness of young experience that “didn’t happen” unless it’s photographed and uploaded to Facebook, only to be painstakingly untagged the hung-over next morning. So that only people who know you already can see what a drunken schmuck you are.
Not all of them, though.
There’s been no disavowal from Cornell seniors Mike McLaughlin and Peter Brogan, who really take it between the eyes when Rubin ends her story with them at one o’clock in the morning at an eatery called Collegetown Bagels.
Mr. McLaughlin downed two bagel sandwiches and flipped back and forth between Facebook updates and texts, looking for hookup contenders. Mr. Brogan (who would like the record to reflect, especially for his parents, that he has a job after graduation) sipped a pint glass of sangria left by a previous patron and shot down prospects. “Don’t do that,” he said to Mr. McLaughlin, referring to one woman. “She likes you.”
“Come on, let’s go smoke cigars and play drunken Madden,” Mr. Brogan said, moving his thumbs to mime an Xbox controller. Mr. McLaughlin’s phone lit up and he jumped, but alas, it was only a Facebook status update.
Congratulations to Pete on the job offer. And the free sangria. But bros, come on. When will you learn? Do not talk to journalists!