Ad Board Hears More Alcohol Cases

The number of liquor law violations heard by the Administrative Board has doubled since 2001, according to statistics released in August by the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD).

In 2001, the Ad Board reported 62 cases of liquor law violations, in 2002, 96, and in 2003, 134.

But Secretary of the Ad Board John T. O’Keefe said the increase is the result of changes in the Ad Board’s reporting policy, not stricter enforcement of drinking rules.

“I doubt that there is more or less drinking on campus, nor does it seem to me that there is more involvement on the part of HUPD or proctors or tutors in monitoring parties or drinking,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We have become careful over the past few years to include warnings as well as formal disciplinary actions in the statistics we include in our Clery Act reports.”

The Clery Act requires colleges to report crime statistics to the federal government.

O’Keefe said that the number of students who have had significant disciplinary action taken against them has not increased.

“The Board imposed a period of probation for inappropriate social behavior related to alcohol abuse in 12 cases in 2001-02, 12 in 2002-03, and 8 in 2003-04, so those numbers are more consistent year to year,” he said.

When a student is found guilty of a liquor law violation, the Ad Board can give a warning or proceed with more a formal disciplinary action, such as probation or mandatory withdrawal from the College. These violations, defined by the Clery Act, include the illegal possession or transport of alcohol, providing alcohol to a minor or drinking in a public place.

O’Keefe said the “vast majority of these cases” result in dean’s warnings or House warnings (the former for freshmen and the latter for upperclassmen).

“These are informal disciplinary actions taken by the Freshman Dean’s Office [FDO] or a House, and reported to the Board,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Part of the purpose of an informal warning is to encourage students to reflect on their behavior and seek help as needed, before we get to the point where there is a permanent mark on a student’s record, or before there are even more serious health or safety problems.”

He said the Ad Board has been more careful about recording and reporting warnings in recent years, and that these warnings account for the majority of the increase in the total numbers of violations heard by the Ad Board.

“There are warnings that went on earlier that we didn’t include in our numbers for the Clery Act,” O’Keefe said. “I think five years ago only some warnings were reported and today we do a much better job of getting those numbers and keeping track.”

O’Keefe said that very few of the total number of liquor violation cases heard by the Ad Board result in serious disciplinary action, and the cases receiving warnings are resolved within the House system and the FDO and are not officially heard by the Ad Board.

The Houses and the FDO notifies the Ad Board of warnings, and the Ad Board in turn reports the aggregate numbers to HUPD.

—Staff writer Hana R. Alberts can be reached at alberts@fas.harvard.edu.