Alcohol review is complete

The Committee on Alcohol Policy in Yale College delivered its report to University President Richard Levin Monday, concluding a yearlong review of alcohol use among undergraduates.

The report, which Levin said will be publicly released later this week, was commissioned after Boston police cracked down on alcohol consumption at the Harvard-Yale football game in 2004. Beginning last March, the 14-member committee — chaired by Yale College Dean Peter Salovey — met weekly to craft its recommendations, which Salovey said will not substantially change the University’s rules regarding student drinking.

Levin said the report will be made public after he studies its recommendations and meets with committee members this week. He said he convened the committee last spring on the recommendation of Salovey and the Council of Masters.

“This is something that has been a concern on campus,” Levin said.

Salovey declined to comment on specific recommendations because the President’s Office has not yet released the report. He said the committee recommended few new regulations and focused instead on preserving the University’s traditional emphasis on health safety while drinking.

“The report is much more concerned with creating an environment on campus that discourages risky drinking behaviors and provides alternative ways for students to have fun with their friends,” Salovey said.

If the committee’s recommendations are accepted, Salovey said, they will be implemented by a number of different administrative organs on campus, which will be supervised by the President’s Office and the Dean’s Office. Funding for new programs is controlled by the Provost’s Office, while other changes may be put in place by the Council of Masters, the Dean’s Office and the Athletics Department, he said.

But Salovey cautioned that several of the recommendations call for further study and discussion before implementation. Some of the recommendations touch on the relationship between student organizations — including fraternities and other off-campus groups — and administrators, he said.

“I would call [the new recommendations] complex rather than controversial,” Salovey said.

Students said they think the drinking culture on campus is generally safe, and they praised the University’s current emphasis on safety over punishment. Neha Mahajan ’06 said the policy was “pretty lenient” compared to that of other schools.

“As long as you don’t hurt anyone or destroy property, it’s hard to get in trouble,” she said.

Jake Marcus ’08 said he thinks the current policy encourages students who need medical attention to go to University Health Services. Yale students in general do not have a drinking problem, he said, and it may be difficult for administrators to reduce drinking on campus substantially without the imposition of new rules.

“Culture change is probably a lot more difficult than just putting on more regulations,” he said.

The committee included two undergraduates as well as Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg, faculty experts on alcohol use, a representative of the Athletics Department, two residential college masters and one dean.

The group met with a wide range of undergraduates — randomly selected students as well as representatives of athletic teams, fraternities and other student groups, Salovey said. The committee also spoke to residential college deans and masters, administrators at University Health Services and the police, he said.

In addition to examining Yale’s current policy, Salovey said, the committee evaluated the policies of 33 other colleges and universities, including large public universities as well as the other members of the Ivy League and some smaller liberal arts colleges.

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