The number of students admitted to Harvard University Health Services for alcohol-related illnesses this semester has decreased after spiking last spring, Director of the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Services Ryan M. Travia said during a talk with students about alcohol policy.
The conversation was one of two held Monday evening as part of administrators’ ongoing effort to solicit student feedback on Harvard’s drinking culture while they work toward crafting a modified alcohol policy for the College.
Over the past three years, admittances to UHS due to dangerous drinking have been rising. The number of admittances in the fall 2010 semester alone equalled the number admittances for the entire 2009-10 academic year, according to tutors who learned the statistics from College administrators during a residential tutor meeting last year.
Administrators have attributed the increase mostly to the College’s amnesty policy, which since its introduction in 2007 has promised that intoxicated students who seek medical attention will not face disciplinary action.
Travia said that the decrease in emergencies this semester might result from the Office of Student Life’s increased financial support for late-night weekend activities like movie nights and from a College-wide effort last semester to crack down on dangerous habits like drinking games.
Monday’s two meetings were held in Adams House and Pforzheimer House. Residents of Adams, Quincy, and Lowell Houses and those who live in the Quad were invited to the two gatherings.
Although the meetings were advertised over House email lists, both were sparsely attended, attracting only seven students each.
Adams House Committee Co-Chair Collin A. Rees ’12 pointed out that the participants, who were mostly DAPA members, UC representatives, and HoCo members, might not be representative of the Harvard community.
“There was a very distinct set of people here and all viewpoints weren’t represented,” Rees said. “I don’t think we saw much of the drinking side or partying sides of Harvard.”
He and Sharon L. Howell, the acting Adams House Master, said that they hope to hold a similar meeting later in the year to bring more student voices into the alcohol debate.
This is not the first such meeting to be poorly attended. At a freshman-specific discussion last month about social spaces and the ban on alcohol in Yard dorms, six students attended—four of whom were Undergraduate Council representatives.
Students at both of Monday’s meetings said they believed a lack of College social spaces leads students who are seeking alcohol to off-campus spaces like final clubs and Greek organizations where dangerous drinking is more prevalent.
Cabot House Master Stephanie Khurana said she believes that the Houses can address this problem by creating more attractive community events, like improved Stein Clubs.
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