HoCo's Petition Against Keg Ban
The petition is signed by the chairs of all 12 House committees (HoCo).
“We believe that, while the intent of the keg policy was positive, the policy will actually effect negative and potentially dangerous results,” the petition said.
Lewis was not present to receive the petition, which had been circulated among the HoCos for two weeks. He said later that he was busy preparing for a 10 a.m. computer science class when the students arrived.
Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth ’71 was scheduled to receive the students. But they quietly delivered the petition to Lewis’ personal assistant and left before Illingworth could meet them.
“They were so quiet and I got tied up on the phone,” Illingworth said. “I don’t think they even knew that I was supposed to see them.”
When the petition effort first started two weeks ago, Winthrop House Master Paul D. Hanson said he was skeptical about the petition’s effect.
“The chances of it being approved by the dean’s office are nil,” he said at the time.
But Eliot HoCo Co-Chair Eric B. Hart ’03 said he remains upbeat about the petition’s prospects.
“I think we brought it forward in a fairly professional manner,” he said. “I’m optimistic that maybe they’ll seriously consider our compromise.”
In arguing to overturn the ban, announced by Lewis in December 2000, the petition focuses on safety concerns. It says the ban will force students to turn to other, less safe ways to consume alcohol, including off-campus tailgating and increased consumption of liquor.
“I think it’s the next affordable option to get cheap, bad [hard] alcohol and mix it in mass punches,” said Eliot HoCo Co-Chair Emily R. Murphy ’03.
“The likelihood of getting seriously intoxicated on hard alcohol is a lot higher than beer,” Hart said.
Hart emphasized that the HoCos want to work with the administration.
“We weren’t trying to blindside [Lewis] with this,” he said. “It’s not us complaining. It’s more us pointing out some issues we see with the ban, perhaps some unforeseen results.”
The petition proposes a compromise that would groups to bring kegs—provided they register in advance. This kind of system would allow the administration to keep control without banning kegs outright, according to the petition.
Henry Wechsler, a social psychologist and lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health and a national expert on collegiate drinking, has argued that the benefits of the keg restriction outweigh the drawbacks.
“Restrictions on drinking do not cause more drinking and in many cases have resulted in lower drinking levels,” Wechsler said in an Oct. 9 letter to The Crimson. “It’s time to stop crying in your beer.”
Hanson said he believes The Game is about more than getting drunk.
“If the object of people coming to the game is to get totally inebriated, they can certainly find some service that will provide a hypodermic needle that will insert alcohol directly into the bloodstream,” Hanson said. “I regard Harvard students as living on a plane informed by a higher understanding of health issues and also issues of social decency that will lead them not to see as an objective of alcohol simply getting totally looped.”