The decision came on the same day that members of the Eliot House Committee drafted a petition to Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 requesting that he reevaluate the ban on kegs at next month’s Harvard-Yale tailgate events.
Winthrop House Master Paul D. Hanson, who also chairs the masters’ committee, said the masters felt that kegs in the Houses unnecessarily compromised the safety of undergraduates.
Hanson said the ban was due to the 2000 Harvard-Yale game, when there were “clear signs that that type of alcoholic beverage at the game was detrimental to the spirit of the game.” He said there were several instances that weekend when intoxicated students were endangered—with some even falling from the trucks rented for tailgates.
Eliot Hoco Co-Chair Emily R. Murphy ’03, who signed the petition, said she understands the administration is concerned with student safety but feels they are misguided in their approach. Banning kegs, she said, would probably encourage rather than curb dangerous behavior.
“For me it’s the issue of safety,” Murphy said. “The primary alternative [to kegs] is going to be hard alcohol, probably in the form of punch. Students won’t know how much alcohol they’ll be consuming.”
The petition, which Eliot’s Hoco circulated yesterday to the other Hocos for their endorsement, asked that official Harvard and Yale student groups be allowed to have kegs at their tailgate parties.
It cited student safety as the primary reason the ban should be overturned.
“The thought of thousands of college students consuming nothing but hard alcohol is a somewhat disturbing image,” the petition reads. “As HUPD officers, proctors and tutors have told us repeatedly, hard alcohol can be extremely dangerous when used without caution (caution is rarely in great effect at events such as the tailgate).”
The petition also says the ban may compromise undergraduates’ safety because they might travel while intoxicated from an alternative tailgate site to The Game.
“This seems like a real slap in the face to the House Committees,” said Undergraduate Council Student Affairs Committee Chair Rohit R. Chopra ’04. “I’m very surprised the masters decided to proceed with this in a closed meeting.”
Chopra also said purchasing cans and bottles, rather than kegs, would put an unnecessary financial burden on Hocos.
Murphy and other Eliot Hoco members also argue the ban on kegs will create more stray garbage at the game.
Hanson said that while the masters considered some of the petition’s safety concerns, they ultimately decided that kegs posed a greater threat to student safety.
“When kegs are delivered, you usually get into the mentality that the kegs need to be emptied,” Hanson said. “There were injuries connected with keg delivery.”
While Chopra said he hopes yesterday’s decision by the masters will not end student discussion of the ban, Hanson said he thinks it highly unlikely the petition—if submitted—will be successful.
“In light of this discussion this afternoon, the chances of it being approved by the dean’s office are nil,” Hanson said.
It was unclear last night whether Eliot’s Hoco will proceed with plans to submit the petition to College administrators.
—Staff writer Anne K. Kofol can be reached at email@example.com.