A Message to Students About the Harvard-Yale Game

In my undergraduate years we certainly opposed the administration on many issues. But no one fought to preserve the right to get dangerously drunk.

I appreciate The Crimson’s work to acknowledge the effort being made by the College to provide a fun party while observing the laws. Equally strong among our motivations is the desire to start a dialogue with students about what kind of campus we want and how alcohol affects it. Getting drunk is neither a requirement for having a good time nor the reason we have football games.

Simply put, alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition. As the November fifth editorial in The Crimson points out, there were 30 fans transported to hospitals by ambulance and at least six students treated for potentially fatal alcohol poisoning following The Game in 2002. We have to recognize that some students are putting themselves (and others) in danger, and we must act as a community to promote safe behavior.

Let’s review the facts. Harvard University must and will observe all relevant laws, ordinances and regulations concerning transport of alcohol, underage drinking, and serving alcohol to those who are already inebriated. The Boston and Cambridge Police Departments expect the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) to assist them in enforcing all drinking laws, ordinances and regulations. The ban on kegs is in place for all home games (not just Yale) and applies to everyone attending, not just students. The amounts of alcoholic beverages that individuals are allowed to transport legally are the same for everyone, students and non-students.

What is the College doing differently this year to support the efforts of the Undergraduate Council and the House Committees to have a memorable Game day? We’ve assumed the responsibility for obtaining the necessary permits. We’re using Ohiri field to throw a big party for Harvard and Yale students and recent alums holding a Box Office ticket. We’re helping arrange the fronting of the bill to have a licensed, bonded distributor serving the beer. We’re having special pancake breakfasts in the Houses and Annenberg prior to The Game and working with Harvard University Dining Services to pull out all the stops on the BBQ this year. And there will be enough beer to serve anyone with a valid I.D.

We’ve listened to students and have found ways to have all student groups be together on Ohiri Field. We will have plenty of food available, and will encourage all students to participate in the day’s festivities (perhaps even to attend The Game). We’ve listened to HUPD and our area police departments and are within the law. We are providing a safe, responsible way for students to enjoy a drink, to socialize with their peers to see some football and to enjoy a great Harvard tradition.

Now we need you to listen. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. We need you to take care of each other and make sure that no student is harmed. We need you to follow the laws of the Commonwealth. And we need you to go to The Game and support your fellow students on the football team who will make this day memorable in the most important way—by beating Yale.

Benedict H. Gross ’71 is Leverett Professor of Mathematics and Dean of Harvard College.