Tag Archive: Alcohol

  1. Bad Habits

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    “It’s not considered alcoholism until after college.” “The Dangers of Underage Drinking and Other Historical Posters” at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library dispels this and other myths with lurid advertising from the 1950s to 1970s. Have you ever drunk alone? On the sly? Gulped down drink after drink?  Does that sound like your Saturday night? Beware! These are the starting signs of alcohol addiction, the exhibition warns us. “The Dangers of Drinking” posters amplify just about everything associated with the ’70s: psychedelic typography, bright colors, opposite color wheel spectrum partnerships, a stringy moccasin leather jacket and a sense of over-the-top explicit suggestion coupled with a sense of overwhelming fear.

    On the opposite side of the “Dangers of Drinking” posters are a series of informational comics exploring some of the things that (obviously) (inevitably) happen after too many nights of irresponsible drinking. A 1943 comic, “I Know All About Woman” features the inside of an army platoon hangout. One of the soldiers claims he can tell if a girl has syphilis just by looking at her, which of course the other soldiers challenge and just have to ask the army doctor about. After showing an informational pamphlet featuring a penis with a chancre (“sore,” the comic makes sure to clarify) and explaining the need of a microscope lens to actually see the syphilis bacterium, the doc puts Curley in his place. “If you can’t stay away from pickups or prostitutes, at least use a pro,” are Doc’s parting words. (I don’t know what a “pro” is.) Poor Curley. Go pro or go home!

    From the Australian island comes an informational poster about the realities of AIDS. Namely, “You don’t have to be a queenie to get AIDS.” Yes, by today’s standards, pretty offensive to the queer population. The campaign does however attempt to destigmatize the disease by addressing it through a “normalized” heterosexual lens. “A man has sex … with someone who has AIDS. He goes back to his wife … who gets AIDS from him. They all get very sick.” A simple plot story that ends with a few gravestones and an impending sense of doom about your night out. What better way to inform people than to make them scared out of their wits? Most people would understandably choose a less painful, drawn-out death and the comic lays it on. Thick.

    To isolate the drinking issue: When these posters were released, the legal drinking age in New York State was 18. There goes the argument of people binge drinking when they get to college because of the “exciting illegal factor.” By the late 1980s, traffic and adolescent studies would show that states with a minimum legal drinking age of 21 curtailed alcohol consumption and drinking-and-driving accidents. These results eventually prompted Congress to take action toward a uniform minimum legal drinking age of 21. Even so, the dangers of excessive and abusive drinking have remained on the forefront of many college campuses and administrative conversations. Maybe the real question here is how can we protect against something we don’t understand?

    I wish I could say more modern advertisements of “Tobacco-Free Kids” or “D.A.R.E” escape the realm of finger-wagging paternalism to reach their target audience, but how many times have we all rolled our eyes when another one of those melodramatic voice-overs shows up on the television screen?  Did these campaigns protect us? The posters from the 20th century don’t seem any less ridiculous and probably did as much (or as little) to protect adolescents as they do now. Something is missing here. Beyond the hilarity, beyond the sensationalism, if we really want to defend vulnerable populations, there needs to be a sense of true connection to what speaks to them. “The Dangers of Underage Drinking and Other Historical Posters” shows how campaigns might have always been missing their mark.

  2. Relaxing with Dr. Rajita Sinha

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    The Yale Stress Center: just sounds like a description of Bass Library during finals, right? In fact, the Stress Center is a recently established research group looking at how everyday pressures affect our bodies and minds. Located on the second floor of an ominous-looking building near the Medical School, the Center combines clinical practice with empirical analysis in an integrated approach to treating and studying stress and new ways to cope with it just like the now on sale delta 9 gummies. WEEKEND sat down with Dr. Rajita Sinha, the Center’s founding director, to find out about the work she does and maybe pick up some tips for surviving Yale with our sanity relatively intact.


    Q. Are there aspects of life at Yale that provide new sources of stress compared to life here in the past?

    A. That’s a good question. There’s also the question of, are the things we have and do today different? Not are they good or bad, but are they different? I think social media is different, very concretely. It means having access to a lot more information, information on multiple levels – intellectual information, social information. That’s definitely different, and that can be in some ways good, but there are also downsides to it. Maybe having too much information can be a lot to deal with. Having multiple demands adds load to the brain. It divides up attention. Some of the classic studies have been about, “How many things can we keep in our working memory?” or in our conscious memory. How many tasks can we perform? Whatever that capacity is, it’s limited — it’s not endless. The more demands you put on this executive, I like to call it our “brain executive,” the more it’s going to get burdened, possibly at the risk of overload, and then the ramifications of overload are feeling weakened. Not that you’re feeling physically or emotionally weakened, just that your ability to take it all in can be weakened in a physiological way. Drinking Shot of Joy can help make you feel better.

    Q. As a clinician and a researcher, can you tell us what is empirically effective to deal with stress?

    A. There are some very simple things that help with that regulatory homeostasis: drink plenty of water, get sleep, eat three meals a day, have some social connections, take breaks. Those are basics, but if you think about college life, they’re not a given: Sleep? Food? Water? I’m talking about the body I don’t exclude the brain — the brain needs that very much too. So that’s number one. What are additional things you can do? Here I would expand on positive activities and social relationships, because they take you out of worrying and choices and all of these other things that can stack up.

    The other thing that people in college aren’t careful with is alcohol, drugs and food: healthy and unhealthy behavioral choices. You have a drink and suddenly you’re more social, you might make some new friends, it’s also the thing that people do together when they party. But in fact the stress system is a target for alcohol — it sort of chips away at your stress system.

    Q. What is that “stress system”? How does a mind-altering drug chip away at it?

    A. We take most drugs to change our mood, and that’s the clue: If it’s to change your mood, it’s having other effects on your ability to manage your moods and emotions. The stress pathways in the brain have to do with all of these different levels of functioning: basic levels of survival, all the way up to thriving and enriching our lives. We have the “fight or flight” response, and then we stop thinking about stress, as if it stops there. But that’s the basic level of survival: Hormones get released, chemicals get released, and that mobilizes your body so that you can be functioning in that moment of crisis to protect yourself. What also happens is that those hormones are going back into the brain and signaling the brain to get that next level of coping going: not just protecting yourself, but learning from it. For example cortisol goes back into the brain and helps shut down this acute arousal response, but it also has influences on memory and cognition, and so does adrenaline. Alcohol directly changes the signal that releases cortisol, it desensitizes this arousal response, because it’s a depressant: it starts to make you calmer in the acute state, but over time, and with lots of it, that becomes permanent. You lose the ability to not only be aware of stressors and respond to them, but also the secondary effects that come from it, like learning, like differentiating what’s important versus what’s not. The ability to have those pieces of information starts to get chipped away.

    Q. How does stress get connected to destructive behaviors like drugs or drinking or binge eating?

    A. That’s what I’ve been obsessed with, I guess, in my life. We know a few things about this connection. One of them is that stress hormones, actually, are very involved in our learning pathways. So if you are overloaded with stress, these motivational and learning pathways that are linked to our stress hormones start to have an impact, and downstream effects. If you start to have lower motivation under stress, you might want to have a pick-me-upper. And rather than taking good care of your brain, it’s sometimes easier to have a couple of drinks. There’s also some evidence that the amount of reinforcement you feel from a drug that feels pleasurable is different if you’re stressed versus not stressed. And then there are these direct effects of stress hormones on dopamine, which the mainstream media will often talk about as the “reward chemical.” Those are some of the links that we’ve studied: this dopamine pathway or “reward pathway” also goes all the way up to our frontal executive and helps us think and manage cognitive tasks. So these are very intricately linked, and what’ we’ve discovered is that there isn’t much of a difference, at least in the neurochemical pathways, between what’s involved in motivation and learning and what’s involved in stress and stress regulation.

    Q. You helped found the Stress Center as a director. How did you end up putting something together like this, both clinical and research-based?

    A. My work has been in stress and emotions for a long time, and how stress affects behavior and choices, the link between stress and addictive behaviors. NIH [the National Institute of Health] was interested in complex biomedical and behavioral problems that don’t get solved with more traditional ways of studying, and what they asked for was to set up consortia: bringing teams of people with different expertise to solve complex problems. We put together a consortium here at Yale, with two other universities as collaborators, with leading scientists to target the links between stress and these addictive behaviors of alcohol, nicotine and comfort food, because those are three of the main behavioral causes of chronic diseases, and we felt the brain mechanisms had been ignored. It was all research from basic science, animal studies all the way to human-based studies and population studies. But what we found was that people who were calling in to participate in our studies were saying, ‘What can you do about it? Can you help us with our stress? Can you teach us what to do?’ And in fact we were developing new interventions as well as looking at things that had worked in the past. I’d found that people were not paying attention to thinking about health from an integrated perspective, integrating brain issues and body issues.

    In terms of medical treatment, we’ve divided the body into different pieces, and of course there’s importance for specialists, but wouldn’t it be good to have a place somebody could come and have a team approach to what’s going on with them? Could that perspective open up a different way of thinking about health, and well being, and addressing people’s problems? A lot of times in chronic disease, there are multiple causes, and those issues are related to stress, so it made sense to start with the concept of stress and all of its multiple effects in the brain and body, to construct what we call ‘clinical and preventive services’ that would link to the research, and there would be a really nice back-and-forth between research and clinical presentations. So we established the stress center first as a research center, and three or four years later — that was only two years ago — we opened it for clinical and preventive services. It really is an experiment, we don’t know if this is going to take off, but it’s at academic centers that we should be trying new things.

    Q. Was it difficult to get recognition for stress as a medical issue?

    A. Actually, it’s not like a diagnosis right now. It’s still experimental to think you want to treat it with medication, in fact we studied that in our consortium: identifying those who are highly stressed, who we know are highest-risk for developing stress-related diseases, whether cancer, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases. Can we begin to prevent these diseases? People have been studying stress and it’s been known to be a medical phenomenon that’s very critical, but it hasn’t reached the place where it’s become a treatable, preventable issue. In fact, one of the goals of the Stress Center is to approach stress as something that we address and treat in a routine way. Our vision is that if we do that, we’ll change the relative risk ratio of stress contributing to these diseases.

    Q. You mention some pretty startling physiological manifestations of stress: cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease. How does a mental state like stress turn into a physical ailment?

    A. I should say very clearly that stress is not the cause of cancer, as in, ‘A leads to B.’ It’s a really important contributing factor. The reason for clarifying is because stress, especially chronic stress, leads to changes. The stress pathways that I described to you earlier are there to learn and adapt to the challenges of the environment. So, it inherently is one that changes. So as it changes, those changes can be good or they can also be bad. If you have too much bad stress, you start having changes as a result of those adaptations, changes in secondary systems. For example, if you have too much adrenaline flowing around that doesn’t shut off, it will change your baseline state of things that are affected by adrenaline — that may be heart rate, it may be blood pressure. If you’re pumped up all the time, and can’t go back to your homeostatic state, the body’s system starts to shift. And now your basal level of blood pressure might be different than it was five years ago, and there are then secondary effects of higher blood pressure, in your blood vessels and other things. Those changes may be at the cellular level. So things can translate pretty quickly. Really, the complex diseases that I‘m talking about don’t have one cause. We have to stop thinking in those simple ways, we’re not in the domain of simplicity. In fact I’m working on a paper on this. I think we might need a different scientific approach to think about complex systems.

    Q. I’d love to hear about that paper.

    A. I think we need a paradigm shift in our approach to science. All of us have been trained in the reductionist model, of breaking things down to see if A leads to B, and as you’re breaking things down you’re not going to get the answer for something that’s a complex, interconnected phenomenon. The paper is just taking shape, but it’s about the question of whether we need different scientific models and frameworks for addressing complex phenomenon, as is true in other disciplines like physics.

    The one last thing I would say is that it can sound bad that we have so much stress in our lives, and sometimes people ask me, ‘Do you have hope?’ It’s crazy, everybody is getting stressed, and I have a lot of hope because I think we have a lot of capacity as humans to regulate ourselves. We haven’t explored all of those options, we haven’t tested them, so there’s a lot of hope in terms of plenty of things that can be done.

  3. The Social Networks

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    For a special occasion, I recently decided to make an exception to my typical weekend habits.

    It was the Friday night before the Harvard-Yale Game, and the campus was buzzing with activity. I was where I always am these days — in the Reporters’ Room of 202 York St., the Yale Daily News building. But that night, the scene was a little different. The room — normally a site of productivity — was packed and lively.

    Although I was not used to this vibe at all, I tried to enjoy myself. As people continued to trickle in, I stood to the side, sipping uncertainly from my drink — it tasted like radioactive bacon fat — while chatting up my fellow YDNers and attempting to meet some Crimsonites. “It’s a mixer!” a friend slurred into my ear. “Mix!”

    But the crowd grew, the lights flickered, the music blared and then someone went ahead and spilled beer on me. Suddenly, I became aware of where I was and all the people around me, and I froze. For the remainder of my time at the party, I stayed silent and stared straight ahead, with only my thoughts to entertain me.

    What caused me to clam up like this? The crowds? The Cantabs? The uniquely putrid stench of the alcohol, body odor and fluid exchange mixed into one? My all-too-self-conscious mind has run through this question time and again without reaching a conclusive answer. All I know is that many times in the past, similar situations have turned me — a shy but usually sociable person — into an archetypal INFJ, with Introversion in font size 72. As a result, after months of uncomfortable Fridays and recuperative Saturdays, I made the decision at the beginning of my second semester at Yale to adopt “staying in” as my default weekend status.

    But the more pressing question that I continue to ponder every weekend (and Wednesdays — thanks, Toad’s!) is whether or not I’m missing out on a part of the Yale experience when I spend nights in bed or at the library. I worry that I’ll have fewer friends, memories and adventures to speak about once I graduate, or that I should be using these pockets of free time to “network,” as one close friend calls it, with some of the world’s future leaders.

    On the eve of The Game, it didn’t take long for me to tire of the party. Pushing through the crowd at 202 York, I made my way out of the building and started in the direction of Pierson. “Wesley!” I heard my name shouted from within, so I glanced back at the first floor window. Inside, the crowd was still pulsing. Amid the moving bodies of dancers and drinkers, my caller was nowhere to be found.

    As I gazed into the building from where I was standing outside in the cold, I wondered once again whether or not I was supposed to feel lonely.

    * * *

    When I called Madeline Yozwiak ’14 late on a Wednesday evening, she was just finishing up a problem set. A little earlier in the night, she had been busy baking treats to surprise and congratulate a friend after her exam.

    Two years ago, Yozwiak might have instead spent most of the day scrambling to finish homework in preparation for a night at Woad’s.

    Yozwiak, like me, was unfamiliar with the concept of nightlife upon first arriving at Yale. During her high school years, her closest friends from school lived 45 minutes away. The obstacle of distance meant that “going out” was simply not an option.

    Upon arriving at Yale, Yozwiak said the party culture took her by surprise.

    “There was a certain type of socializing that I didn’t expect,” Yozwiak said. “That’s not to say it was bad — it just wasn’t something that I was used to.” She added that much of the pressure to party is implicit. Even benign questions during Sunday brunch — “So what did you do last night?” — indicate a subtle stigma against staying in, Yozwiak noted, as students feel obligated to have stories prepared about crazy parties they attended the night before.

    Such sentiments are often shared by similarly inexperienced students. But Katie Byrnes, assistant chaplain at St. Thomas More Chapel who assists with providing alternatives to partying at the Chapel’s Golden Center, pointed out that Yalies from all sorts of backgrounds are often initially overwhelmed by the collegiate party culture.

    “Students assume that everyone else is partying in this amazing Instagram life,” she said. “They don’t realize that some of us are just at home doing laundry and watching TV.”

    Bernard Stanford ’17 — who lived and attended high school in New York City — agreed that the quick formations of party communities within the freshman class surprised him.

    Even before they step into their first classes, freshmen are inundated with information and advice on Yale’s party culture. This summer, the University premiered its new online alcohol education course, which showcases Yale students demonstrating appropriate drinking practices. Then, during Camp Yale, freshmen counselors shuttle students from workshop to workshop, covering topics such as campus safety, alcohol consumption and communication and consent. While these efforts were clearly designed for the protection and safety of students, they go further than merely acknowledge the University’s party culture — they assume that it represents the core of undergraduate social life.

    Both Stanford and Yozwiak found the party culture discomfiting. Yozwiak described her previous routines as exhausting — especially during stressful academic periods — as she often had to run from place to place or transition abruptly from working to socializing. Stanford is usually reluctant to socialize or take initiative in entropic party environments — a shyness that he attributes to a childhood stutter.

    But while Stanford and his suitemates share similar habits, Yozwiak was a member of Yale’s sailing team, with whom she partied every Wednesday and on weekends when they didn’t travel. After Yozwiak quit her team halfway through her sophomore year, she did not know how to spend her free time anymore. Every Wednesday that rolled past without a visit to Toad’s felt weird at first, she said.

    “It took me a really long time — until the end of sophomore year — to realize that people were doing other things,” she said. Eventually, she found herself looking forward to spending time with talking with friends or studying together at Blue State. This realization, she said, made her junior and senior years much more bearable.

    Reflecting back on her freshman year, Yozwiak proposed that freshmen may find it difficult to navigate the undergraduate social scene because they feel that they have to pick one of two different paths to pursue: either to shed their nerdy innocence completely, or to completely reject partying on moral grounds. It took Stanford a few days, me a few months and Yozwiak a year or two before we discovered that there existed an entire spectrum of other possible social identities.

    * * *

    Sometimes, Yale feels like the campus that never sleeps, a place with no shortage of evening activities. Weekend nights, the campus becomes peppered with hotspots that serve drinks and attract huge crowds while promising attendees a good time. Pregames, frat parties, suite get-togethers, screws and University-sponsored events are just some manifestations of this trend. According to Madison Moore GRD ’13, who studied parties and nightlife during his time at Yale, such splintering of the campus makes sense.

    “Everyone has [experienced] a nightlife culture or some sort of celebratory moment,” he said, adding that these moments may also include smaller social events: a dinner party, going to see a show with someone else or a small gathering of friends.

    Most weekends during my freshman year, I ended up with some friends at Global Grounds — a cozy reinterpretation of the Dwight Hall space, laid out with tables, board games and food. It was where I went to find a calm refuge from the raucous atmosphere of Old Campus just on the other side of the door.

    Across campus, similar spaces can be found. St. Thomas More has its equivalent, the Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Center, which offers movie screenings, discussion groups and other events in addition to food and a study space. While both of these spaces are run by religious groups, Byrnes said neither is restrictive in its target attendees or programming.

    “The point of [the Golden Center] was to create a space for students,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether they are Catholic or not. Our mission is hospitality.”

    For students who find that spaces like the Golden Center aren’t far enough removed from the campus festivities, Cody Hooks ’14 suggests that they look into off-campus living. Hooks, who manages a weekend potluck group for students living off-campus, said being ingrained in the residential college experience — and, more broadly, in the campus culture — can be intense and tiresome. During his first two years in Trumbull College, Hooks attended some parties, which he enjoyed at the time. By junior year, however, he said he “got over college life.” Now, he spends weekends at home, going to shows, at bars or seeing midnight screenings at the Criterion Cinemas.

    Hooks emphasized that his potlucks were less about countering party culture than they were about community building. He believes that many students who live off campus are looking for alternatives to the residential college construct, which is what he hopes to provide with the potlucks that he hosts.

    Byrnes also believes in building alternative communities instead of avoiding or opposing traditional Yale parties. She hopes that freshmen who normally only attend parties or similar events because they feel the need to do so will consider the Golden Center — a comfortable space and viable community where students are meant to feel safe and welcomed.

    After all, Moore said, while nightlife and celebratory activities are often about entertainment and letting loose, they are also about interacting with new people and making social connections that normally would not be made.

    “College isn’t just about taking classes,” he said. “It’s about learning how to be social.”

    * * *

    I sat in a Pierson common room across from Pearson Miller ’14 and Alaric D’Souza ’14, two seniors who have been friends since freshman year. At several points in the conversation, they seemed to forget that I was there, their thoughts turning to memories of earlier years on campus. They reminisced like an old couple, and sometimes completed each other’s sentences.

    Although they weren’t suitemates freshman year, Miller and D’Souza found each other and a larger group of friends because they all lived in the same entryway. Approximately half of the them tended to stay in on weekends, Miller said, which made it easy for the group to bond and spend time together. Some nights they would play video games, but most of the time, the friends would just talk. In fact, they had so many subjects to cover that they compiled a list of conversation topics that grew as the year went on. Containing everything from “suicide” to “Which X-Men character would you be?” the list was inexhaustible.

    Like several other students interviewed, Miller and D’Souza were reluctant to identify as exclusive non-partiers. D’Souza’s habits have changed over the years — because he enjoys dancing, he attended more parties sophomore and junior years, but has cut back again this year in order to complete medical school applications. Similarly, Lisa Ann Tang ’17 goes out to parties roughly every other weekend, but often prefers to spend time with friends by simply talking or watching movies in their suites.

    Harvey Xia ’16, who usually chooses to stay in on weekends, said he tries to avoid characterizing the social habits of Yalies through “false dichotomies.”

    “It’s not about drinking or not drinking, or partying or not partying,” he said. “It’s about college students trying to find their way through a culture that has predominant values [centered around partying].”

    Miller, D’Souza and Tang all said they felt no pressure to party. In fact, all but three of the eight students interviewed said they felt no pressure to partake in any specific social culture at Yale, although they all acknowledged that they have friends who feel differently. D’Souza guessed that the pressure may stem from the greater visibility of those who go out — students who prefer alternate forms of weekend entertainment were inherently a bit more difficult to find.

    While partying is a social medium that most students seem to enjoy, Stanford noted, there are other options if you look for them. When he is not spending weekends with his suitemates, he takes part in the community of Yale Students for Christ, despite not sharing the religious beliefs around which the group is built.

    “A critical mass of people enjoy [partying], so it can monopolize social interaction,” he said. “But, there is enough space left over for a non-partying culture [to exist] and to still have fruitful [relationships].”

    * * *

    As I was packing my bag and preparing my belongings for a Thanksgiving break at home, I heard voices enter the suite. Suddenly, my door slammed open.

    “Wesley!” my suitemates shouted. They had returned early from a Harvard-Yale party at the Afro-American Cultural Center. Together, we snuck into the buttery for soft drinks and quesadillas. After returning to our common room, we put on “The Call,” a horrifying film starring Halle Berry.

    Only 24 hours had passed since I left the News-Crimson mixer in a daze. Tonight, there was no confusion about how to feel.

    I forgot about the packing. After all, I was already home.

    Correction: Dec. 7

    A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the St. Thomas More Chapel student center as the “Goldman Center.” In fact, it is the “Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Center.”

  4. YCC releases alcohol report


    In an email to the student body this morning, the Yale College Council announced a report including five recommendations for improving the University’s drinking culture based on the results of a survey of nearly 1,500 students, open forums and discussions with individual students.

    The report recommended firstly that University President Richard Levin make a public statement supporting a reconsideration of the legal drinking age. The current legal age limit of 21 has repeatedly come up in discussions among students and administrators as one of the main challenges to creating a safe drinking environment, according to YCC President John Gonzalez ’14, and the best way to address such as a “macro level” issue is to join a movement advocating for long-term change.

    Yale College Dean’s Office Fellow Garrett Fiddler ’11 said there is a general awareness on college campuses that reducing high risk drinking might be easier with a drinking age of 18, particularly because it would allow universities to teach students how to drink responsibly upon entering college.

    “One idea would be that freshmen could drink with their master and dean at a reception when they came to campus if they were legal,” Fiddler said. “Drinking in a social situation with adults would be a much less risky initial drinking environment than pre-gaming in a suite.”

    However, Fiddler said he thinks the end goal of improving Yale’s drinking environment by attempting to change the legal drinking age is unrealistic and unlikely to happen in the near future. While the current legal drinking age impedes alcohol education on college campuses, Fiddler said, the law has many other reasons for being in place, such as preventing drunk driving.

    The report also recommended the creation within a year of a dry, large-scale dance or other event where students can socialize on weekends. The YCC has found that there are limited late night options for students under 21, Gonzalez said, and providing alternative outlets is important.

    In addition, the email advised the University to clarify their alcohol disciplinary policies and that Yale Police and administrators do not ask students where they received their alcohol. The survey found that over 200 students have chosen not to seek assistance when intoxicated due to fear of disciplinary repercussions.

    According to the email, the YCC plans to meet with Levin, President-elect Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Mary Miller over the summer to reevaluate Yale’s alcohol policies.

  5. Harvard updates alcohol regulations

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    As Yalies prepare to take Harvard by storm for The Game this weekend, they may need to leave their beer pong plans behind.

    After a Nov. 6 meeting, Harvard faculty and administrators voted nearly unanimously to put into effect a new alcohol policy that aims to establish more explicit guidelines for students’ private parties and dorm events. Though the new policy relaxes alcohol policies for House formals, they ban high-risk competitive drinking games. Harvard’s ban on hard alcohol and kegs at tailgates remain in place and will be enforced at The Game.

    For Harvard students, though, certain parts of the new policy remain frustratingly ambiguous, prompting questions on whether beer pong counts as an activity that “promote[s] high-risk drinking, such as excessive and/or rapid consumption of alcohol, particularly of a competitive nature.”  

    Yalies who are at least 21 years old will need to show identification and get a wristband in order to consume alcohol. Students cannot bring their own alcohol to the tailgate.

    For a full list of Harvard’s “Rules of the Game,” click here.  

    To read the new alcohol policy in its entirety, click here.

  6. Gentry warns of alcohol dangers

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    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.


    W. Marichal Gentry

    Senior Associate Dean of Yale College

    Dean of Student Affairs

    Dean of Freshman Affairs

  7. Cops to parade-goers: leave the beer at home

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    As the Elm City gears up for its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade Sunday, its police announced they will be cracking down on public drinking.

    New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said any of the expected 300,000 parade-goers caught drinking in public will face a $99 fine, the New Haven Independent reported. In anticipation of the influx of people into the city, Hartman said the NHPD will hire an additional 100 officers on Sunday to patrol the downtown area.

    While public drinking along the parade route has always been illegal, the NHPD has only stepped up enforcement in the past two years.

    “We will now be enforcing public drinking laws,” Hartman said, according to the Independent. “Unruly behavior is not going to be tolerated.”

    The NHPD will work with bar owners to ensure a smooth parade day, Hartman said. That message was underscored by the site of Hartman’s press conference: Anna Liffey’s, a bar on Whitney Avenue.

    The St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Derby Avenue and Chapel Street and will wind downtown to the New Haven Green. Grand Marshal Kevin Smith said at the Thursday press conference that the parade will feature 3,600 marchers in 126 units, the Independent reported. While the event typically draws around 250,000 people each year, Smith said the balmy weather predicted for Sunday — sunny with a high of 54 degrees — could bring as many as 300,000 to the parade.