Claremont Insider: Underage Drinking

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Underage Drinking

Son of Claremont School Board Member
Involved in Incident

The problem of underage drinking is more or less hidden unless you are a college president or one of the unfortunates in a car plowed into by a pack of inebriated college revelers out for a good time. The reaction of some college presidents is to sign on to the Amethyst Initiative, now more or less stalled since summer at 134 signatories. The reaction of the hapless families of the prenominated unfortunates is to send a few bucks to MADD.

The policy issues of drinking on the Claremont campuses, and the accompanying behavior modeling (a favorite term of art among the Amethyst Initiative Presidents) occasionally makes its way to our local precincts. We recall several years back when a planning commission decision allowing demon rum to be served at the Sagehen Cafe on the Pomona College campus was appealed to city council. If memory serves, those old tee-totalers Paul Held and Sandy Baldonado voted to deny the permit. Al Leiga and Karen Rosenthal voted to uphold Planning, and Lew Miller was kept on the bench by a conflict of interest. It was interesting to hear the staid college administrators lobby council for their liquor license. (on a tie vote of an appeal, the Planning Commission decision stood, and liquor is served at the Sagehen Cafe)

More recently, we read that every month or so another undergraduate is hauled by ambulance down to Pomona Valley Hospital for a drinking-related problem as described last February about Claremont McKenna.

Teddy Bingham
So it was of interest that a perfect storm of underage drinking and its consequences converged around Teddy Bingham, class of 2011 at Pomona College (Go Hens!) and son of Claremont School Board member Beth Bingham, a 23-year-old former Marine (Semper Fi!) attending CMC, and The Bottle.

This incident was first detailed here, here, and here, but there are so many political and personal agendas swirling around in those posts and the comments thereto that it's hard to extract the facts, let alone the truth.

A narrative without much serious challenge has it this way: In the wee early hours of Saturday, September 27th, Teddy Bingham (b. October 1989, and therefore not quite 19 on the date in question) was drunk on the CMC campus. He was seen in the company friends filling a shopping cart with rocks near Ducey Gymnasium (near the corner of 6th and Mills). As the others scattered, Eric Yingling, CMC class of 2012, the 23-year-old former Marine, approached and asked Bingham what he was doing. Bingham lunged at Yingling, who cold-cocked Bingham with one punch, opening up a cut that bled like the proverbial stuck pig.

Claremont police were called to Benson Hall at 1:30 a.m. and filled out a contact report: "PVHMC has a victim of a 242 that occured tonight at the above location. Victim was 242'd by unknown suspect, negative on prosecution." It is unclear whether the phrase "negative on prosecution" was at Bingham's request, on the officer's own initiative, or because Bingham was at the hospital and thus there was no percipient witness.

According to Beth Bingham as reported here, Teddy was stitched up at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.

By 3:41 in the afternoon on the 27th, and presumably having "lawyered-up", Bingham appeared at the office of Campus Safety wanting to file a police report on the incident. Which would probably be a prerequisite to any possibly-contemplated legal action.

Bingham brought an action against Yingling at a CMC Judiciary Board (J-Board) proceeding which was heard on Friday, November 14th. While these Star Chamber Proceedings are held in secret, the upshot appears to be that Yingling was found guilty of the assault and sentenced to CMC probation, which means, "If anything like this ever happens again..." Since no one thought to charge Bingham with anything--stealing rocks, drunken lunging, operating a shopping cart while intoxicated--or since his boozy behavior is more or less the norm on a Friday Night in Claremont, Bingham is in the clear.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby's "behavior modelling" hasn't filtered down to his sophomore class 18-year-olds yet, but just wait for the Amethyst Initiative. We presume he will not be modeling the behavior of drunkenly filling a shopping cart with rocks in the middle of the night and lunging at a former Marine. Or understated graceful and refined underage projectile vomiting in The Wash.

Beth Bingham
When asked her role in Teddy's activities following the incident and trip to the hospital--the filing of the police report--Claremont Unified School District Board member Beth Bingham demurred. When asked about Teddy's underage drinking, she was quoted as saying it's a "reality that high school and college students drink." C'est la vie. Nothing to do about it. Boys will be boys.

So much for instruction in the home; maybe Beth will be more proactive with your kids.

A tip of the Insider Sherlock Holmes cap to the Claremont Conservative for the lead and legwork.