In an email to the student body this morning, the Yale College Council announced a report including five recommendations for improving the University’s drinking culture based on the results of a survey of nearly 1,500 students, open forums and discussions with individual students.
The report recommended firstly that University President Richard Levin make a public statement supporting a reconsideration of the legal drinking age. The current legal age limit of 21 has repeatedly come up in discussions among students and administrators as one of the main challenges to creating a safe drinking environment, according to YCC President John Gonzalez ’14, and the best way to address such as a “macro level” issue is to join a movement advocating for long-term change.
Yale College Dean’s Office Fellow Garrett Fiddler ’11 said there is a general awareness on college campuses that reducing high risk drinking might be easier with a drinking age of 18, particularly because it would allow universities to teach students how to drink responsibly upon entering college.
“One idea would be that freshmen could drink with their master and dean at a reception when they came to campus if they were legal,” Fiddler said. “Drinking in a social situation with adults would be a much less risky initial drinking environment than pre-gaming in a suite.”
However, Fiddler said he thinks the end goal of improving Yale’s drinking environment by attempting to change the legal drinking age is unrealistic and unlikely to happen in the near future. While the current legal drinking age impedes alcohol education on college campuses, Fiddler said, the law has many other reasons for being in place, such as preventing drunk driving.
The report also recommended the creation within a year of a dry, large-scale dance or other event where students can socialize on weekends. The YCC has found that there are limited late night options for students under 21, Gonzalez said, and providing alternative outlets is important.
In addition, the email advised the University to clarify their alcohol disciplinary policies and that Yale Police and administrators do not ask students where they received their alcohol. The survey found that over 200 students have chosen not to seek assistance when intoxicated due to fear of disciplinary repercussions.
According to the email, the YCC plans to meet with Levin, President-elect Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Mary Miller over the summer to reevaluate Yale’s alcohol policies.