This year’s Yale-Harvard weekend will not include kegs or keg parties, Harvard’s House Masters Committee announced Oct. 9.
Citing student safety concerns, the masters committee — similar to Yale’s Council of Masters — has banned all kegs and campus keg parties during the weekend of Nov. 22-24. The ruling has caused controversy, especially among Harvard undergraduates who claim the keg ban will cause more, and not less, dangerous activity.
The new policy expands an earlier ban on kegs in the football tailgate area, which was enacted in 2000.
Paul D. Hanson, master of Winthrop House at Harvard, chairs the committee. He said the new policy was enacted in light of bad experiences at past Harvard-Yale contests.
“The last Yale game [at Harvard] was not a happy event, with a couple of students falling off vehicles,” Hanson said.
Hanson was referring to an incident in 2000 when several intoxicated students fell off trucks rented for the tailgates, the Harvard Crimson reported.
But Emily Murphy, co-chair of the Eliot House Committee — an organization similar to a student activities committee in a Yale residential college — said banning kegs would not deter students from getting severely intoxicated. In fact, she said, it might worsen the situation.
“We’re opposed to it because it will cause more problems than it will solve,” Murphy said. “Students will not drink less; they will drink hard liquor in punch instead, where it’s unregulated and they won’t know how much they’re drinking.”
Murphy said she and the rest of the Eliot House Committee drafted a petition that they intend to send to Hanson and the rest of the Masters Committee urging a compromise that, they say, will be a safer solution.
The proposed compromise suggests that official student groups, like the House committees, be allowed to check with the Harvard administration before buying a keg; these official kegs would be the only ones allowed on campus during the weekend of The Game.
The Masters Committee has yet to receive the petition, according to Murphy. But Hanson said he was convinced the Oct. 9 policy made good sense.
“We don’t see a good correlation between kegs and a good sports game,” Hanson said.
Hanson, responding to student protest, said the policy was not arbitrarily conceived.
“Our research has been done by people who spend their careers researching alcohol abuse,” Hanson said.
Eliot House is the sister dormitory of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards College. Eliot often hosts JE students over the weekend of The Game. But JE student activities committee member Andrea Wolf ’03 said she thought any effect of Harvard’s new policy could only be negative.
“Because there won’t be kegs, people will be more prone to drink hard alcohol,” Wolf said. “They may even drink more.”
Wolf also said that without kegs, students would drink much more from bottles and cans, which would litter the Harvard campus. Murphy and the Eliot House Committee also raised this exact issue in their petition.
In response, Hanson said the policy, if ineffective, could always be revoked in later years.
“We never write anything in stone,” Hanson said. “We are not party-poopers who want to throw a damper on the wonderful celebrations of our students or our foes down south.”