Published 05/01/12 12:38pm

In Which A Helicopter Parent Tells Us We Have A Drinking Problem


Hey, remember when that bloggy mommy whose daughter is a Penn grad student did that shocking exposé on how Penn is awful at tailgating? Ring any bells? Well Sandy Hingston is back and well on her way to establishing herself as the most out of touch Penn parent in all the interwebs. In the May issue of Philly Magazine, Hingston goes on an extended romp of crazy in her wannabe tell-all "The University of Pennsylvania Has a Drinking Problem."

Yes, it's just as ridiculous as it sounds.

Let's begin at the beginning:

My dad got his Ph.D. at Penn back in the ’60s,...[And] my sister went to Penn. Now my daughter is a grad student there.
Right, so before we even get into this piece, let's establish the facts that Hingston never went to Penn and her only Penn memories to speak of are over fifty years old, secondhand from a sibling or from one of the 11,000 grad students on this campus. (Side note: Sandy, are you aware that the graduate division of Penn is separate from the undergraduate schools? This is usually the part where we make the "Do you even go here?" joke.)

Hingston first went into alert-mode when her daughter Marcy, a student in the School of Social Policy and Practice, asked her for a ride to get alcohol because the nearby liquor store on 41st and Market had closed. While we can all agree that the closing made things a bit more annoying, it's really not that bad- after all, the store at 21st and Chestnut is a five-minute SEPTA ride away.


Did we really just imply that it wasn't that difficult to get liquor at Penn? Our mistake. Hingston thankfully reminds us that students "can barely drink at Penn" these days, and, in fact, students hate drinking on campus because of the laundry list of requirements an undergraduate group needs to adhere to in order to throw a party– requirements that didn't prevent recent spikes in hospitalizations and the UA hazing scandal from last semester.

Pretty convincing stuff, this. That is, until you remember that the numbers behind these controversies don't really add up. Recall the 168% increase in Fling incidents from 2011 to 2012. A big, scary number, yes, but one that the Chief of MERT Daniel Spielman said was not particularly meaningful because of the variables at play– the weather, changes in medical amnesty and the wild and crazy theory that students are simply more comfortable asking for help these days. "Comparing [this year] to last year doesn’t mean anything to me,” Spielman explains. Nor to us.

But for Hingston, the Quaker drinking problem and the resulting crackdown on alcohol reaches further than we imagine: a conspiracy. Think the da Vinci Code, except Tom Hanks is a bored mom with a laptop and the Louvre is the state Liquor Control Board. As Hingston theorizes,

I’d never heard of a state store closing. The two in the hometown I moved away from 40 years ago are still right where I left them...If Penn did conspire in the closing of that liquor store, it’s understandable. Colleges can’t win when it comes to student drinking these days.
Right, a conspiracy to control those problem drinkers whose maturity issues are the result of over-protective parents who sheltered their children to the point of defenselessness when left to fend for themselves. Who knows what will happen when that new liquor store that "will be housed in what’s now Risqué Video, an adult-video store at 43rd and Chestnut" opens, Hingston wonders? Probably nothing, considering that the Zoning Board struck down the application for that venture last month.

In closing, Hingston's comically out-of-touch editorial would never have happened if her daughter Marcy had put on her Big Girl Boots and taken SEPTA to go get alcohol when the campus liquor store closed in January. Marcy, if you're really a social policy grad student who "cares about underdogs," why don't you save your mother the trip the next time your booze cravings kick in and go get your own alcohol just like everyone else?

But enough about Hingston. It's past noon, it's finals season and it's warm outside. Perfect time for a drink, no?

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