Alcohol committee courts student input

After promising to consider student input, members of the Alcohol Recommendations Implementation Committee (ARIC) have begun meeting with students in individual residential colleges to gather their thoughts.

Following the announcement of new alcohol initiatives to reduce high-risk alcohol consumption to the Yale community last week, members of the ARIC have held discussions with students in eight residential colleges to receive suggestions from students, in addition to clarifying and explaining the initiatives. According to Director of Student Affairs Hannah Peck DIV ’11, though dates for meetings in the remaining colleges have not been set, the ARIC plans to hear input from every college.

“We are really in a phase of gathering as much student input for the implementation committee as possible,” Peck said, adding that the ARIC also hopes to build upon ideas received from students last year.

The discussions generally begin with a short introduction and explanation of the new initiatives by a member of the ARIC, said Student Affairs Fellow Garrett Fiddler ’11. Afterwards, ARIC members address students’ questions and concerns about the initiatives.

The meetings have generally been successful, Peck said. Some audiences have consisted solely of residential college members, while others attracted a wider group. She added that the two meetings that took place on Monday saw 20 to 30 attendees each.

During Monday night’s discussion in the Silliman College Dining Hall, students sought clarification of the initiatives’ purpose and goals, asking what kinds of tangible changes or new programs would result. Fiddler reiterated that the focus of the initiatives is not on curbing underage drinking but rather on developing a strategic method to reduce the harms of high-risk drinking.

Some students expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in the disciplinary process, particularly for students who bring intoxicated friends into Yale Health. Fiddler said the committee will consider developing a clear “Good Samaritan Policy” in which students will not get in trouble for helping others seek medical attention.

To alleviate students’ worries around seeking medical attention for intoxicated friends, The committee has spoken with community members who are open to the idea of including ambulance services in the basic Yale Health plan for all students. Currently, students who are not on the full Yale Health plan are billed for ambulance charges to nearby hospitals, which may cost as much as $600.

Peck said that one theme that has come up in every residential college meeting is the sentiment that current policies are unclear. Peck said students asked for reminders of basic information pertaining to alcohol policy that were addressed in their freshman years.

According to Peck, students have also been offering opinions on how to reform the educational methods by which alcohol policy information is distributed.

Most students found the meetings helpful in clarifying the initiatives and encouraging an open nature of discussion.

“[The meeting] made us feel that students’ voices were actually given weight on the matter,” Lucia Herrmann ’16 said. “They were very helpful in making what was previously vague digestible and much more easy to understand.”

Peck and Fiddler have also met with student leaders from various pockets of campus. The success of these meetings has been mixed, Peck said — while meeting with athletic captains elicited valuable input, scheduled meetings with leaders in the Singing Group Council and the Society Assembly failed to draw any attendees.

Still, Peck said these unattended meetings are not failures, as the ARIC still established a connection by reaching out to the student leaders and will continue to ask for their input as the process continues.

The deadline for students to apply to the ARIC was March 3. Two undergraduates will be chosen from this pool to join the four other undergraduates currently serving on the committee.

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