Harvard banned kegs at the Harvard-Yale football game this year to prevent a repeat of the 2000 Game, where four students were hospitalized with life-threatening cases of alcohol poisoning. The plan worked — to an extent.
While the number of potentially fatal cases decreased, the number of students who were intoxicated enough to warrant hospitalization appears to have increased, according to The Harvard Crimson. The most serious cases this year involved two students who were intubated, a procedure in which a plastic tube is inserted into the windpipe to aid breathing.
Harvard University Police told The Crimson they believed this year saw an increase in the total number of students taken to local medical facilities. Estimates ranged from 10 to 30 students, though the total number of hospitalized students will not be available until this week.
In an op-ed in The Harvard Crimson last month, Harvard’s Dean of the College Harry Lewis wrote that the ban on kegs this year was a response to the “chaos” that had resulted from the prevalence of kegs at the 2000 Harvard-Yale game.
Both Harvard and Yale students said the ban on kegs only encouraged greater consumption of hard liquor. Instead of the normal kegs of beer, fans brought their own alcohol, and enough of it so some passed out at the tailgates outside Harvard Stadium, students said.
Harvard sophomore Erika Larson said she and her family saw several fans being carried away during The Game.
“I actually think people were drinking a lot more. They had a lot of hard liquor,” Larson said. “The ban was completely counterproductive.”
Many people mixed vodka and other forms of alcohol with apple cider and hot chocolate, Larson said.
One student said she had a friend who did not wake up in time for The Game because of heavy drinking the night before.
Larson said the amount of garbage from the beer bottles and cups brought in by fans created a mess “worse than anyone expected.”
Christopher Grobe ’05 said while he did not see anyone smuggle alcohol into The Game, the situation was different outside the stadium.
“If you walked around to all the college tailgates, you could see the kegs were being replaced by hard liquor,” Grobe said.
Because of the garbage and the still-rampant alcohol abuse, Larson said she believes Harvard should reverse the ban the next time it hosts The Game, in 2004. Grobe, on the other hand, said while the statistics speak for themselves, it is up to Harvard to decide whether it wants to continue with the ban — or make it more strict.
And while the problem was visible to some, a few students said they did not notice anything unusual.
“I didn’t see anything,” Christine Chang ’04 said.