Yale President Richard Levin’s committee to review the University’s undergraduate alcohol policy, first convened last spring, is in the final stages of preparing its report to Levin.
In meetings last semester, the committee examined the culture of alcohol use on campus as well as Yale’s official policy toward student drinking. Several students said they hope the administration will maintain a focus on student health rather than on prohibition if they choose to make policy changes. Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said committee members are currently working to finish the final version of the report, which they hope to complete in approximately two weeks.
In general, the report is more focused on how to influence the drinking culture on campus rather than on changes to specific rules and regulations, Salovey said in an e-mail Friday.
Yale College Council Vice President Marissa Brittenham ’07 said she thinks the University should focus its efforts on improving the information provided to students, especially freshmen, about safe drinking. Trying to ban or limit drinking is not effective, she said, but more alternative social events might deter some students from drinking.
“I think that fostering an atmosphere of safety is the most important thing, and I think that’s what Yale does,” Brittenham said.
Pierson freshmen counselor Olivia Haesloop ’06 said she appreciates the University’s focus on health instead of punishment for students who drink.
“It acknowledges that freshmen are going to drink,” Haesloop said. “It’s unreasonable to assume that it’s not going to happen because there’s some rule against it.”
The safety-driven approach permits freshmen to alert their counselors if they plan to have a party and to seek help if a friend is sick from drinking, Haesloop said. She said she has not dealt with any serious problems resulting from excessive drinking so far this year.
“The lack of serious problems suggests that the policy is effective,” she said. “There are kids who drink too much, but I don’t think that’s something the University is responsible for.”
Eve Burstein ’08 said she thinks the committee report should focus its efforts on helping students make responsible decisions about drinking. The current University policy works primarily for students who have already decided to drink, she said, with freshman counselors on hand to help freshmen and with anonymous access to University Health Services.
“Their policy for dealing with the effects of drinking is pretty well-established,” Burstein said. “Their policy for preventing drinking or sponsoring University events to provide an alternative to drinking is not well-established at all.”
Brittenham said she thinks alcohol-free events such as the YCC-sponsored dance during Harvard-Yale weekend help provide an alternative to other campus parties.
But Haesloop said the problem is not a dearth of things to do, but the lack of a central source informing students about evening activities such as theater and other student shows.
“I don’t think it’s the solution to have more YCC events,” she said. “I think its more a matter of making it more known what’s out there.”
Haesloop said a few freshmen have approached her to discuss alternatives to campus parties where students are drinking, and the freshmen counselors try to provide information about alternative evening plans. But many freshmen who do not drink go out to parties with those who do, Haesloop said, without feeling pressured to drink.
Levin said the committee’s conclusions would be made public after he receives the report.
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