For the outsider, navigating Yale’s social life seems fairly formulaic. Wednesday? Roam around listening for a pregame and then hit up Toad’s (with a Yale ID). Thursday? The bars around Park Street and SAE late-night. Friday? Check out a party suite in the colleges — there’s sure to be something going on. Saturday? Off campus parties on Lynwood are rampant (or take your chances with the significantly riskier Saturday Toad’s). But this year the traditional party schedule of the Yalie has been disrupted.
Policemen are stationed at Phelps Gate to monitor alcohol-soaked freshmen, sending them to Yale-New Haven Hospital instead of the cushy DUH (does anyone say Yale Health?) that their frocos would prefer. Police have broken up parties from the Crew House to Frat Row, and tales of Old Campus raids are multiplying.
What’s going on?
For one, we know that Connecticut drinking laws have changed. Now, if a group hosts a party and underage drinking is found to have occurred there, every member of the group can be named in a suit or a ticket enabling underage drinking — regardless of whether or not they were physically at the party. This, combined with the various ordinances already in place regarding underage drinking, authorizes and encourages policemen to raid parties, particularly off-campus ones.
Then, we know about Yale’s new stance on “quiet hours:” they seem to actually be enforcing them. The quiet hours aren’t a new phenomenon; residential colleges have long required relative silence past 11 p.m. on weeknights, and 1 a.m. on weekends. While I personally haven’t seen these hours enforced on the weekends, residential college administrators certainly seem more serious about maintaining them during the week this year. Although these rules only apply in the residential colleges, the dean of Berkeley recently insisted that a gathering taking place in her courtyard not continue past 11, even if it was moved to Cross Campus. There was no alcohol involved at this gathering.
Finally, there are things that can’t really be explained. This past weekend there was a New Haven police car stationed right next to the Women’s Table. New Haven policemen are everywhere on weekends: walking around the colleges, stationed outside Toad’s, lurking around the frats.
So what do these new developments mean for us?
We’re going to get sneakier: finding ways to party without disturbing the masters or attracting attention, staying at one party all night, getting rid of speakers for music.
Perhaps most dangerously, students (particularly freshmen) will be afraid to act when one of their friends drinks too much. We pride ourselves on considering drinking to be a health issue as opposed to a disciplinary one here at Yale. It enables us to make safe choices and, especially, leaves room for freshmen to make mistakes and learn from them without suffering. Now that there is a policeman stationed at Phelps Gate, frocos calling the minibus to take an intoxicated student to DUH will have to send them to Yale-New Haven — a much larger imposition. Ambulance fees have to be paid and parents called. While some students who have been to DUH don’t learn their lesson, the overwhelming majority who drink too much one night are not likely to be repeat offenders. This could result in a disastrous situation where someone is too afraid of the repercussions to get help for a drunk friend, and they could suffer health complications.
Will the frats lose popularity? Probably not. Since students are being driven off-campus, especially with the new enforcement of the quiet hours, the fraternities will just have to find better ways to hide that they’re throwing parties. Basements and backyards will gain more use as opposed to roof or main-floor gatherings.
It seems odd that a school that generally has open parties and such a vibrant social life would crack down. In doing this, Yale faces a potentially expanding off-campus population, and a hesitancy on the part of students to take advantage of the facilities that could help them. It sets a dangerous precedent for parties in the future.