Alcohol Policy Poses Threat to Students' Social Life

Spencer M. Rascoff '97 came to Harvard in search of a good time during Freshman Week--but he says he didn't find it.

Instead, the Matthews Hall resident decided to trek to MIT and Boston College from the Yard because of the lack of parties, which he attributed to the College's new policy that makes the underage possession of alcohol a punishable offense.

"It's made Freshman Week very boring," Rascoff says.

Many first-years report that their first week of college was filled with smaller, tamer gatherings, and fewer of the sprawling out-of control events of past years.

"I've seen less drinking and fewer of the large parties we've been called on to respond to in the past," says Assistant Dean of Freshmen Michael J. Middleton '87.


The change in Harvard's regulations was made necessary by an amendment made to Massachusetts law last spring. The law, which previously prohibited only the purchase and serving of alcohol to minors, now additionally prohibits possession.

In a letter issued to students, Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 wrote that tutors and proctors who discover students violating the policy will issue an informal warning, followed by a letter from a senior tutor or proctor for second offenders.

A third-time offense requires an Administrative Board case that may require mandatory alcohol treatment.

While some first-years conjecture that the new policy has deterred their classmates from throwing parties with alcohol, Matthews resident Sarah K. Kemble '97 says some first-years would welcome a quieter Yard.

"If people go elsewhere to drink then maybe it makes the dorms better for those who don't drink," Kemble says.

Rascoff blames Massachusetts law-makers--and not College policymakers--for his frustrations with the campus social life.

"I don't feel like the state is treating us maturely," he says. "It's like drinking in high school, drinking while looking over your shoulder."

As a result of the new policy, Jewett says he foresees a possible increase in the number of cases involving underaged drinking to go before the Ad Board.

"There probably will be more cases this year," he says. "But I'm hoping people that have been warned will make an effort to curb the problem."

But many students and tutors say they doubt the new policy will force an increase in the number of students, especially in the houses, receiving disciplinary action.

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