Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Statistically Guessing (Part Two)

The truth to the Stonehill College married- alums statistic has to lurk somewhere between the purported 70% of campus hearsay and the 1% verified by Em and Ry’s wedding plans  I'm determined to crack the nut of this nuptial claim. I admit this is no Stonehillgate. Nor is it the kind of myth upperclassmen retell to frighten the bejesus out of impressionable freshmen - like the story that bodies from a campus plane crash are buried under the tiles in the Holy Cross Center lobby.   My fervor comes from the residual effect of me insisting – for forty years - that my students back up their claims with data, stats, and quotes from authorities or, even better, authorities spouting the data and stats.
I had to find me a data-spouting authority

So I telephoned the office of the online source that separated the facts from the far-out fiction of the college’s plane crash story: Stonehill Media Relations. Left a message. “Hello, I’m trying to get to the root of the statistic that 70% of Stonehill alumni marry each other.” Left my number.
Martin got back to me in an hour. I repeated the query. Told him that, for years, I’ve heard Em and her friends  tap their close to three-out-of-four chance of  winding up with a Stonehill mate --  back and forth -- like a badminton birdie.
                  “Sounds like some form of an urban myth,” he said in a thick Irish brogue. The same brogue the bookstore associates had when I helped Em gather her first semester books, eight years ago. The brogue that rolls off many a Stonehill tongue.I could just imagine how the plane crash story might resonate – in a dark, candlelit dorm lounge,  with that inflection.
I digress.
                  “We get along very very well with each other,” he remarked good-naturedly . But he wasn’t about to attribute that congeniality to 7 out of 10 male alums waltzing down the ailse with  former Stonehill coeds. “I suspect it’s a consequence of the get-married-again ceremony every year at our reunion.”
                  Get married again?  This was beginning to sound stranger than the campus plane crash myth. . .or the purported drowning in what is now Alumni Hall – when it was a private residence -- which  is why, the legend goes, the college has never built a pool facility.
                  “Yes, every reunion the married couples gather in the chapel to renew their vows. Maybe 20 couples last reunion,” said Martin.  So by marry again he meant  remarry, not a "new" marry. That made more  sense.  
                  “Rather touching. One fella even started to cry,” continued Martin. “Said later, ‘I didn’t get this emotional when I did it the first time. I don’t why I’m tearing up now.’”
                  Martin seemed to doubt that a top administrator had talked up the statistic with the New Orleans volunteers at their Stonehill reception, but he did promise to get back to me in a few days with numbers. That's right - data and stats.  This PR guy is a researcher's dream.
                  In the meantime, I’ll have to ask Em and Ry to give me their spin on the eerie lore of Stonehill College.

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