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Few Schools Change Alcohol Policies

Many Universities Cite Tough Rules Already in Place

By Jay K. Varma

Although Harvard has significantly altered its alcohol policy to comply with new federal regulations that take effect Monday, officials from many other colleges said this week that they planned few definitive changes to their drinking rules.

The legislation requires colleges and universities to enforce state alcohol laws or risk losing federal funds. In response, Harvard has banned liquor from parties in first-year dormitories and asked house tutors to take action when they encounter students under 21 being served alcohol.

Officials at other schools had varying reactions to the new law. Most said their rules already complied with state drinking regulations. Others said either that their policies are under review or that they have taken some steps towards refining campus regulations.

Patricia Pierce, dean of academic affairs at Yale College, said that a decision has been reached on policy revisions, but will only be announced "in the next couple of weeks."

Meanwhile, the Yale Daily News has reportedthat the campus is abuzz with rumors and confusionover the prospective changes, but it quoted YaleCollege Dean Donald Kagan as saying that "it's allwildly overblown."

"It's no big deal," he said. "Nothingextraordinary can possibly happen. There'spractically nothing new."

Stanford University is "still reeling from [thenew laws]" and "will be looking at itsimplications" in the next few weeks, said MichaelRamsey-Perez, fraternal affairs adviser. But hepredicted that the new law will permanently alterthe school's enforcement role.

"Federal regulation now puts us in the policerole," he said. "Our policy in the past was in theeducation mode."

No Change

Officials at many other schools said that theirrules on campus drinking were sufficiently strictto satisfy the demands of the 1990 Drug FreeSchools and Communities Act.

"Princeton had already started to tighten itspolicies," said Maryann B. Coffey, associateprovost at Princeton. "We were already moving inthe direction the law requires."

Officials at the University of Pennsylvania,Boston University, and Boston College echoedCoffey's comments, saying that their universitieshave had tight restrictions on alcohol for anumber of years.

"We haven't really considered any changes yet,"said Kim A. Randall, coordinator of studentservices at BU. "We're already doing it, and thensome."

And a Penn official said that the recentelevation of campus security officers to thestature of an official "police force" has helpedenforce the school's already strict drinkingregulations.

Taming Animal House

Dartmouth appears to have taken steps similarto Harvard's in enforcing the federal legislation.

"While the previous policy admonished studentsto be cognizant of state law," said Dan M. Nelson,dean of upperclass students, "[underage]possession of alcohol is now in violation" ofschool rules.

Though he acknowledges there have been "a fewviolations so far," Nelson said that the newschool rule does not mean that the university willstep up enforcement dramatically.

"We don't foresee an aggressive SWAT teamenforcement approach," Nelson said. "We're doingeverything the feds are asking of us."

While Nelson said that drinking regulations forsororities and fraternities have yet to bedecided, Cornell University plans restrictions onthe use of Greek funds for alcohol.

New "BYOB" policies, regulating the amount ofalcohol students may bring to fraternity parties,have been instituted at the University ofPennsylvania.

Officials at Cornell and Penn cited theliability of fraternities to lawsuits andalcohol-related accidents, not the federallegislation, as the impetus for their actions.

Howard C. Kramer, interim dean of students atCornell, said that the school already enforcesstate drinking laws, but will now increase itsregulation of fraternities as part of an"institutional sensitivity...to situations whereit looks as if the university is colluding withstudents to break the law."

Just Say No

Despite the varied reforms of alcohol rules,all administrators interviewed said their schoolswere distributing health information on drugs andalcohol abuse, as required by the federal rules.

"We make sure that [Boston University] studentsare notified...by raising awareness of the impactof alcohol and the effects of its use and abuse,"Randall said. "Clearly we're very strong in theenforcement area."

This information, Coffey said, "would carry amessage [at Princeton] that real emphasis would beplaced on the enforcement and implementation ofthese policies.

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