University | 6:37 pm | September 7, 2012 | By Madeline McMahon

Gentry warns of alcohol dangers

Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry sent a college-wide email Friday afternoon addressing student concerns with the new off-campus party registration policy.

After the new rule — which requires students to register any off-campus party with over 50 attendees with the Dean’s Office — was announced last month, many students have brought comments to Gentry and Yale College Dean Mary Miller, according to the email.

In the email, Gentry explained that he has observed dangerous alcohol-related behavior, including pre-gaming and binge drinking, leading to the formation of the policy. The new registration policy is intended to encourage students to “think ahead” before hosting or attending parties as well as to start a discussion about alcohol and drugs, Gentry added.

“It’s a straight-forward letter that addresses my concerns for students’ safety,” Gentry said in a Thursday email to the News. “The letter also is a call for all students to ask for help when they need it.”

Read the full email below:

Dear Yale College Students:

In the past few weeks, many of you have written to Dean Miller and me since the new regulations governing student activities went into effect. We thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and hope to continue hearing from you as we work to improve safety on campus.

To give you a better sense of what is prompting these changes, let me tell you candidly what I am seeing: alcohol and other drugs are harming Yale students, in some cases severely. Pre-gaming and binge drinking are sending students to the emergency room. Some students, under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, are making decisions about sex or personal safety that they later regret. Still others are learning too late that their actions, which they can’t remember because they “blacked out,” have landed them in front of the Executive Committee. These are not unusual occurrences; they happen all too frequently, in private rooms and at parties on and off campus, and at bars and in clubs, just as they do on campuses across the country. In my role as the dean of student affairs, and as someone who cares deeply about your well-being, I am working to create new practices that help everyone make good decisions and stay safe and alive. I carry out this tremendous responsibility with the help of my colleagues on the faculty, in the dean’s office, and at the Yale Police Department — and with you — and I consider it one of my most important collaborations.

Connecticut state law prohibits underage possession of alcohol, and in addition Yale prohibits all possession of grain alcohol, which has been implicated in accidental deaths across the country and is banned in many states. While the new policies Dean Miller and I announced uphold those rules, I hope they will do more than that, by encouraging you to think ahead when you attend or host events, making you more aware of all the social opportunities available on campus, including those that do not include drinking, and reinforcing the message that you can and should ask for help when you need it. The new policies have prompted many hosts to register their off-campus events, and we thank everyone who has complied with this new regulation. But just as important, they have started a larger discussion about alcohol and other drugs. I hope you will continue that discussion in your rooms, in the dining halls and courtyards, and at all the events you attend. I hope you will continue it with your colleagues and your families. But I also hope you will continue it with me; as we begin this year, I ask for your constructive ideas and urge you to communicate them to me by working with your student leaders. My colleagues and I are truly eager to collaborate with you.

Yale chose you to be students here in the first place because of the many talents you have found and developed within yourselves. We ask you to continue finding yourself, not losing yourself, in the extraordinary wealth of opportunities in Yale College and in the University.

Sincerely,

W. Marichal Gentry

Senior Associate Dean of Yale College

Dean of Student Affairs

Dean of Freshman Affairs

Comments
  • phantomllama

    This reads like a high school principal writing to a bunch of 15-year-olds.

    • yalereader

      Kudos to Gentry….college is not a time to pursue illegal interests. This is not about 15 year olds, this is about taking responsibility for adult pursuits. Underage drinking is illegal….period. Your 4 years as Yale students should be about learning and practicing behavior that will lead to success in your professional pursuits. Fun CAN BE had without alcohol or illegal experimentations.

      Change has to come from within the student leaders on campus….be responsible Yalies….establish an Alcohol and Drug awareness week and be the example everyone else wants to follow in the collegiate world. Just one drunkenness escapade can cause you to loose it all…your dignity, your Yale experience, your life…it is not worth it to risk 18 years of hard work. Now and as you graduate and get jobs, illegal behaviors can result in fines, jail time, loss of employment, etc. Alcohol abuse, public drunkenness, and sexual hook-ups are typically grounds for dismissal and/or humiliation in any employment opportunity.

      Use college to learn adult ethical behavior to last you a lifetime. Yale administration and student leaders should toughen up its enforcement in this area and students should welcome it and help guide the changes.

      • morse_14

        If college is about “learning and practicing behavior that leads to success in professional pursuits,” then Yale should be teaching every student how to schmooze at a cocktail party and how to play golf, since it’s often through social activities — which, more often than not, include alcohol — that professional success is largely determined.

        At least in my admittedly limited experience, most employers don’t take underage drinking seriously, unless it’s one of many strikes against an application. I’ve never heard of it alone disqualifying anyone from getting hired. Alcohol abuse and public drunkenness are certainly problems, but they’re problems that those over 21 have as well.

        And if we’re talking about “adult ethical behavior,” it seems to me that what we should be focusing on is teaching students how to drink responsibly, rather than enforcing a blanket ban. There’s really no ethical difference between having a beer on your 21st birthday and having a beer the day before that.

        The bottom line is this: as long as alcohol is treated like a forbidden fruit, it will have the attendant mystique, desirability, and “coolness” attached to it. The problem is larger than Yale, and will remain so until politicians get some sense into their heads and lower the drinking age back to 18. There’s no sense in punishing people for something that happens quite openly on campus; the only practical solution is to work within the confines of reality.

        • yalereader

          Is it legal to drive at 15 without a 21 year old on the passenger seat in certain states? Is possessing cocaine and other drugs legal? Is forging checks legal? Is using the phone while driving legal in all states? Is stealing gum legal? hmmm, there are plenty more forbidden fruits…learn self-control.

          Here in lies the problem with your strategy: ‘there’s no sense in punishing people for something that happens quite openly on campus’; it’s the same strategy that leads companies to fail, loose funding, get fined, or loose popularity and shareholder value.

          • morse_14

            None of the others happen openly on campus; your argument is quite a logical stretch. Forging a check and having a beer are clearly morally different. Further, self-control qua self-control has nothing to do with underage drinking — what’s really the issue is the choice of whether or not to exercise it. Could my underage friends refrain from having a beer? Definitely. But why should they? Just because some politicians in Washington and Hartford say they shouldn’t? To me, that doesn’t seem like a very compelling reason. If the law is unjust, there’s no good reason to follow it.

            If you want to go evangelize like Socrates in Crito, go ahead, but my guess is that you’ll find an audience of approximately ten people.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Translation:

    I will be fired if I don’t write a CYA memo that declares we are upholding State laws. Also, I will feel terrible if we have another suicide or untimely death at Yale and I could have prevented it with a Big Brother memo. Finally, spread the word. Be a little bit more paranoid—Pong is going, going, gong.

    PK

    M.Ed.
    (in Student Personnel Services and Administration in Higher Education)

  • River_Tam

    There’d be less students deciding to have sex when drunk if Dean Gentry wasn’t promoting “glorious, consensual sex”

  • The Anti-Yale

    How about glorious self-sex—the ONLY guaranteed SAFE sex !

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