On Campus Formals May Lose Hard Liquor

After this spring, hard alcohol will no longer be served at on-campus House formals, as the Cambridge License Commission will now only issue beer and wine licenses­­ for ticketed events taking place in dining halls.

This decision—which may not alter plans for this spring’s formals—will not affect formals being held off-campus. House events that do not serve hard alcohol or do not charge for admission, such as stein clubs, are also exempt from the change, said Assistant Dean of Harvard College for Student Life David R. Friedrich at yesterday’s meeting of the Committee on Student Life.

The Commission informed Friedrich of the change on Monday, only two days before the first spring formal occurred last night.

Due to the short notice, the Commission might issue all-alcohol licenses for this year’s spring formals if an officer of the University—such as a resident tutor or House Master—were the person of record on the license rather than a student, Friedrich said. Houses will have to make that decision on a case-by-case basis.

“It is unfortunate that we had less time to prepare for this change, but we will make the best of it and comply with the Cambridge Licensing Commission’s expectations,” Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson wrote in an e-mail.

While reviewing its procedures, the Commission discovered that its issuance of all-alcohol licenses for similar past events was not in compliance with Massachusetts law, Friedrich said.

The Commission’s decision elicited disappointment in the Houses, but House Committee members said they were confident this semester’s formals and future formals will continue to delight students.

“It’s really no one’s fault here at the University,” said David L. Billing ’11, a Mather HoCo co-chair. “There’s not much we can do about it. We’re going to go ahead with our formal planning even if there’s no hard liquor.”

Mather HoCo had purchased liquor earlier this week for the Venice Carnival before the decision was announced, but the vendor assured them that their purchase could be refunded if it is not served, Billing said.

Bryan W. Dunmire ’11, co-chair of the Eliot HoCo, said he feared that some Houses may resort to off-campus venues in order to keep serving hard alcohol. While this year Dunmire said House administrators told him liquor will still be at Fête, he said in the future Eliot may choose to stick to beer, wine, and champagne in order to continue hosting the event in the House.

“The Fête is just so traditionalized for however many years we’ve been doing this. It has this beautiful set-up that we’re used to having this swing band outside and a DJ inside, of having a chocolate fountain and food in our JCR,” Dunmire said. “The fact that it’s in Eliot is a celebration of Eliot itself.”

Elizabeth Y. Lint, executive officer of the Cambridge License Commission, was not available for comment.

—Staff writer Danielle J. Kolin can be reached at dkolin@fas.harvard.edu.—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at srivatsa@fas.harvard.edu.

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