UW Dean of Students Lori Berquam made one of the most fundamental mistakes you can, when dealing with young people: trying to dictate their behavior. If you’re not familiar with her recent gaffe, Isthmus covers the story very nicely here, including her FAILED You-Tube video.
Berquam, in the two-minute rant, repeatedly says “Don’t go” when talking about the Mifflin Street Beer Blast, which is now just a weekend away.
I learned when dealing with my nearly-fully-adult children a few years back (both are fully functioning independent adults now, and have been for several years) that, just as when they were younger, TELLING them how to behave is seldom effective. They’ve both heard the talk from me several times, about how I’m no longer in a position to control their lives or their behavior, and I wouldn’t want to, even if I could. Once a kid gets a driver’s license and access to a vehicle, it’s game over.
Besides, I firmly believe control is an illusion.
I also believe that most kids and young adults often deliberately do the opposite of what authority figures tell them to do, a lesson many parents never seem to comprehend. What most kids want is to think THEY’RE in control, so my approach with our kids was to tell them unequivocally where I stand on whatever issue is under discussion. Then, I try to give them information to help them make “their own decision” on whatever it is. I’ve learned to aim for communication, not dictation, even in situations and circumstances when they may make a mistake from which they'll never recover.
Just like the mass e-mails Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema have sent ‘round about the obscene chants in the student sections at Badger football games, the net effect of Berquam’s YouTube rant will likely be exactly the opposite of what was intended.
Dean Berquam admits, much to her credit, that her rant was wrong in tone, wrong in message, and just plain wrong. Within a few hours of her release of the video rant, enterprising UW students “re-mixed” her video mocking her constant repetition of “Don’t go”.
The Mifflin Street Beer Blast has long outlived its usefulness, and has become a huge waste of taxpayer money and police resources. I’ve said many times before the event should be put to an end. But Dean Berquam TELLING the students not to go?