Sticks and Stones

Visit Hamilton College, in leafy upstate New York, and you'll probably hear language that sounds like it belongs more on an elementary-school playground than on a college campus. Indeed, "nasty, whiny brats"--N.W.B.'s, for short--has become a catch phrase on campus since late October. That's when Maurice Isserman, a history professor, used the phrase in a campuswide e-mail denouncing the behavior of nearly 200 students who had staged a "drink-in" to protest Hamilton's rules governing social events involving alcohol. Students at the event blithely broke those rules, quaffing beers on the quad and, shortly after campus and local police arrived, beaning a campus safety officer with a beer can or bottle. No charges have been filed, but Hamilton officials are investigating. "I was outraged at the assault upon the college employees and Kirlkland police department," Mr. Isserman says. "I felt there was an element of entitlement involved; students felt they could do this without any consequences." ...it appears that the N.W.B.'s themselves are claiming a Pyrrhic victory of sorts; the professor's e-mail has sparked a lively debate on rules governing student events. "There have been numerous public discussions, where we've had turnouts of several hundred people," said John O'Keefe, the student-government president, who was not involved in the protest. "We've discussed creative discussions to make this place more fun--activities that don't involve alcohol, but are attractive options," he says.
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