The newly formed University Council Committee on Alcohol in Yale College met for the first time Monday.
University President Richard Levin convened the committee, which comprises five members of the University Council — an advisory group to the president — and five outside experts, this month in order to provide Yale’s senior administrators with strategic guidance on alcohol policy. During the committee’s first meeting, members prioritized gathering thoughts and concerns about University alcohol policy from students, and Eve Rice ’73, a psychiatrist who chairs the committee, said the group plans to meet with more students prior to submitting recommendations to Levin at the end of the semester. Students who attended one of several committee panels said they were excited about the focus on students displayed by the committee on Monday.
“The committee members really did seem to emphasize student initiative, which is refreshing to see,” said Andrea Villena ’15, who attended a dinner with three committee members in the Calhoun Fellows’ Lounge Monday evening. “I felt the committee was listening to students, when many times administrators are not.”
While the committee will not spend more than two to four full days together at the University this spring, Rice said the focus of each visit to campus will be interaction with students. The 10 committee members held meetings on Monday with a group of peer liaisons and freshman counselors, and a group of residential college masters and deans. Members also met with students and varsity team captains on Monday evening.
The meeting for the general student body, which drew roughly 30 students, was primarily attended by Yale College Council members. At the dinner, student attendees raised issues about alcohol-related education for freshmen, the importance of trying out any proposed rules or restrictions on focus groups, and the need to continue emphasizing student health as central to Yale’s alcohol policy, among other concerns. The YCC will provide a list of other students and groups they think the committee should be sure to meet when they return to Yale.
“Yale is very fragmented and decentralized, and it is helpful to know who we should hear from to aid us in our efforts to collect information about Yale’s alcohol culture,” committee member Robert Bildner ’72 said at the event.
University Secretary and Vice President for Student Affairs Kimberly Goff-Crews added that a much larger student forum will take place the next time the committee meets in February.
In addition to the committee’s meetings with students, the group will also build on the findings of the Yale College Dean’s Office Task Force, which began meeting under Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry’s direction in November, once the task force’s work is completed in roughly six weeks. Rice said that to date, the committee and the task force have not interacted.
“As I see it [Gentry and his task force] are the people who are on the ground, living day to day with issues they are speaking about,” Rice said. “They have one perspective which they bring, while the committee members are not daily involved; we don’t have anyone to protect or to try to promote.”
Goff-Crews and Yale College Dean Mary Miller announced the formation of the committee in a Dec. 10 email to undergraduates.