Concern for safety of students should remain utmost concern for new dean

To the Editor:

Although I agree with Elliott Mogul in what he said of Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg (“Honesty, willingness to listen are important for new dean,” 2/20), he elaborated on a small and less important aspect of her job.

As a former freshman counselor, I can tell you that the most important and unique aspect of Betty T’s job is her complete willingness to put herself on the line for the safety of the University. Our alcohol policy is one of the most progressive in the country. We have no “RAs” in the freshman dorms. No one polices any students, nor are any alcohol violations severely punished. No one finds out if a student spends a night in DUH. In short, we have a system that puts an emphasis on responsibility and treatment.

Betty T understands that freshmen, along with every other student group, are going to drink. In order to ensure their safety, the freshman-counselor system is in place. The non-penal, nonjudgmental aspects of the position allow the freshmen to establish an honest dialogue with their counselors and, more importantly, feel safe using them in times of trouble. Betty T has created the safest atmosphere possible. It is something that is not often recognized.

As I said earlier, this system puts her at great risk. No matter what system is in place, at some point in the future, a student will die of alcohol poisoning at Yale. When this does happen, the national media will have a field day with our alcohol policy. In that case, despite its rationality, the policy will be ripped to shreds. The administrators that put said policy into place will be held accountable. Despite the fact that the policy saves lives, Betty T, or her successor, will be held accountable.

What is most important in our next Dean of Student Affairs is not that she be receptive to the likes of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee (bunch of hippies), but rather that she be willing to take great risks for the safety of the University and its students.

Dave Gimbel ’03 MED ’08

Feb. 20

The writer was in Morse College.