Alcohol Admits Double at Game

Over 50 students treated for alcohol-related problems at H-Y Game

In spite of increased efforts to improve student safety at the Harvard-Yale tailgate this year, the number of students transported to University Health Services (UHS) and area hospitals more than doubled compared to the 2002 Game, the last time the competition was at Harvard.

David S. Rosenthal ’59, director of UHS, said yesterday that 25 students were transported to the hospital for alcohol-related incidents. Another 30 were treated at the first-aid tent set up in the middle of Ohiri Field, where the undergraduate tailgate was held, Rosenthal said.

In 2002, 10 students went to UHS and area hospitals for alcohol poisoning. One admittance was a near-death case that involved an undergraduate.

The tailgate faced increased oversight this year in response to police and College concerns about underage and binge drinking. The athletic department banned U-Haul trucks, which tore up the fields in 2002. The College also centralized beer distribution and required students wear wristbands to indicate that they were old enough to drink.

Rosenthal said that it is difficult to compare this year’s numbers to past years because of several logistical changes. The centralized tailgate area, as well as the first-aid tent, could have afffected the number of alcohol incidents, Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said that there were no life-threatening cases this year.

“To the best of my knowledge, no one had to be intubated, and I think that’s because they were transported early on,” he said.

Rosenthal also praised the first-aid tent, the pre-Game breakfast and the nearly 1,000 bottles of water handed out by the nursing staff as factors limiting the numbers of serious alcohol poisonings.

Regardless, Rosenthal said that The Game has fostered a “bad tradition” that encouraged heavy drinking.

“I am concerned about the whole philosophy that...a significantly small number of people who come to the Harvard-Yale Game see it as an excuse to get drunk,” Rosenthal said.

But Chair to the Committee to Address Alcohol and Health at Harvard Joseph L. Badaracco said that the numbers had to be more closely examined before making judgements.

Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd and Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II declined to comment.

Partly in response to concerns about student drinking, City Councilor at Large Stephen J. Murphy is proposing a keg-tracking law that would allow Boston police to keep tabs on where kegs are being used.

This Boston law is targeted at off-campus housing for area colleges but would affect Harvard as the University expands into Allston.

College students’ behavior figures largely in the need for this measure, said Captain William Evans of the Boston Police Department.

“I go to a lot of community meetings and the number one issue the community has identified for me to deal with is college behavior and all the problems it brings,” Evans said.