How the Rules May Affect Campus Life

For all of the hulaballoo over the College's new alcohol rules this week, undergraduates vow and administrators concede that no policy will be able to keep underage students from drinking alcohol.

Nonetheless, officials are determined to update the College's alcohol policy. Not, they say, because they want to make campus life miserable, but because new federal legislation has forced the University to revamp its outdated alcohol regulations.

The Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act, which takes effect on October 1, links federal funding to enforcement of state drug and alcohol laws. The new law requires that colleges enact alcohol regulations that match state drinking laws, and Harvard officials say they have little choice but to obey.

Of course, there are still loopholes--since state law only prohibits the serving or providing of alcohol to minors, the College won't randomly prosecute underage students just because they have beers in their hands. In addition, it is still unclear how strictly the rules will be enforced.

But no matter what the College does, administrators and students say the new rules are sure to change undergraduate life in at least a few specific ways:

.No more kegs in Pennypacker A ban on alcohol at parties in first-year dormitories is expected to all but eliminate huge bashes in the Yard and Union residence halls. A number of first-years who opted to test this rule have reportedly been referred to the Ad Board already.

.Sign for the booze, please House masters tentatively agreed last Wednesday to regulate the delivery of alcohol to the upperclass dorms by requiring students to sign a form stating that they are over 21 and will be responsible for the alcohol delivered. This may cut down on, but not eliminate, the number of keg parties in the houses.

.Open houses may go dry Because the College now prohibits faculty from serving alcohol to underage students, a number of house masters have already announced that they will no longer be serving beer or wine at their open houses. Some house masters say they will continue to do so, but will request adequate proof of age.

.Tutors not invited Tutors and proctors are now required to intervene if they encounter a student serving alcohol to minors. But they are not expected to investigate private parties behind closed doors unless they have reason to suspect that alcohol is being served to underage students. So students may simply keep the drinks out of sight from the tutors--driving another wedge into house life.

.ID, please Since the hosts of a party are now responsible for violations of college rules at the party, upperclass residents may start carding at parties--if only to preserve the appearance of innocence should an accident happen.

.Shame, shame Concerns about harsh disciplinary threats to enforce the new regulations have proven unfounded, so far. First-time offenders caught serving to minors will likely receive only an informal warning from the tutor, or maybe even an official warning from the house. But the College has warned that repeat offenders can expect worse, and those caught for infractions deemed "truly serious"--like using a fake ID to obtain alcohol--could face the Ad Board and much stiffer penalties.

.Drink first, party later Many students say that they will just drink in their rooms before going out to parties. Others say they will just hold smaller parties behind closed doors. Either way, some officials worry that many students looking for alcohol might just go off-campus--to final clubs, local bars or other colleges.

Despite these changes, however, this week's developments held a positive sign for students looking to party as they had in years past. The College, it seems, is not interested in an absolute crackdown on drinking, and will not do more than the law requires.

As Dunser House Master Karel F. Liem said this week, "We tried to comply with federal regulations and still demonstrate respect for students' judgement and abilities to cope with alcohol."