To the Editor:
As former residents of a residential college party suite, we write to express our profound disappointment with the pre-Game party policy promulgated by the Council of Masters, as reported yesterday (“Rules aim to curb pre-Game parties,” 10/27).
Yale-Harvard weekend holds a unique place in the social experience of Yale students. It represents the single time when virtually all students forget about academics and enjoy the unique hoopla surrounding one of the oldest rivalries in college athletics with their classmates and with our guests and rivals from Cambridge. Yale has in the past distinguished itself from Harvard by offering students a non-interventionist approach to social functions that generated much envy — see, for example, “The Cult of Yale,” a 2003 Harvard Crimson article lamenting the superiority of the Yale experience to that of Harvard. But the decision of the Council of Masters helps destroy our position as what C. Montgomery Burns aptly described as “first in gentlemanly club life” while exposing students to unnecessary hassles and danger.
By disallowing on-campus parties of more than 20 students, the Council of Masters creates a set of perverse incentives that encourage students to seek potentially dangerous off-campus activities or to drink in their own suites, where students have easier access to greater volumes of alcohol. Rather than allowing the Game to unify students, they will be scattered among various off-site locales that promise the same opportunity for excessive imbibing without the nearby oversight of a dean or master should trouble arise. In addition, inebriated students wandering the streets of New Haven, particularly those visiting from Harvard, expose themselves to the risks of wandering around a city in a drunken state late at night.
The suggestion that the measures will prevent property damage also seems dubious. Much of such damage happens when students returning home after a long night suffer from impaired judgment. Returning from an off-campus venue will still require these students to pass through common areas of their colleges, presenting the same opportunity to cause damage, and to do so without the oversight of students who wish to treat their colleges with respect that would be present at on-campus parties.
By delineating how students can enjoy the weekend, the Council of Masters inevitably will lessen enthusiasm for it. If the Game no longer remains the superlative social event of the year for students, alumni will derive less enjoyment from the weekend. And if alumni enthusiasm for the Game wanes, so, too, will their attachment to Yale. With that decline will come a decline in giving. We suspect the administration would not embrace this result.
William Durbin ’02, Robert Jahn ’02, Bradley Lebow ’02, Jon Nathanson ’02, R. Warner Off ’02, Andy Sohrn ’02 and Matthew Vogel ’02
Oct. 26, 2005