Lushes Who Lecture

Rebecca Schuman slams the “long-established drinking culture in academia,” arguing that “it’s destructive, it’s pathetic – and it’s widely accepted”:

Every academic on Earth has witnessed, as I have, the untoward behavior – at best mildly embarrassing, at worst criminal or life-threatening – of a scholar in his or her cups: the uninhibited blabbing (revealing everything from latent racism to deep departmental secrets); the slurring diatribes mistaken for erudition; the sudden and unwelcome onset of handsiness. I have been the ungrateful recipient of more than a few instances of three-sheets eminent scholars curiously fascinated by my “scholarship” (having, of course, read or heard nothing about it). …

[S]ure, many faculty who drink do manage it in moderation: Dr. Elbow-Patches nurses a few fingers of single-malt while grading; Profs. Erudite and Polemic deconstruct Marx over Two-Buck Chuck. Great. But there’s also a substantially more embarrassing subset of academics who take advantage – to a dangerous fault – of academia’s flexible hours, minimal supervision, and long-standing culture of booze-soaked bonhomie. Many are the stuff of legend at scholarly conferences, which they treat like lost Vegas weekends. We’re talking grown-ass adults getting puke-loaded and passing out in bars; 55-year-olds drinking with grad students (or, worse, their undergrads) and thus, unsurprisingly, engaging in unethical or illegal behavior.