Boston City Council Speaks Out Against Campus Drinking

* Community leaders discuss policy options in wake of MIT, UMass alcohol-related tragedies

As Boston recovers from recent underage substance abuse tragedies, city leaders at a public hearing hosted by the Boston city council discussed specific policy approaches toward the issue yesterday.

Using information and opinions-voiced at the hearing by students, experts, law enforcement officers and university representatives, a new city council task force will develop legislation aimed at curtailing drinking on college campuses.

Boston Councillor Stephen J. Murphy, chair of the committee on public safety and a co-organizer of the hearing, said that he and other councillors seek to close the loop-holes that allow minors to purchase alcohol.

"There is a great black hole in the system there that is being exploited," Murphy said.

Michele M. Doherty, a fourth-year student from Northeastern University who testified on behalf of her university's sororities, emphasized the importance of involving Boston area students in the lawmaking process.


"If the laws are fair and the students have input into what they're going to be, I think [the city leaders] can enforce them," she said in an interview yesterday.

Councillor Brian Honan, a co-organizer of the hearing and chair of the Committee on University and Community Relations, said the city council will make active efforts "to impress upon the students the dangers of underage drinking and avoid another tragedy."

Council members said they are considering several different legislative options.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino proposed that alcohol vendors delivering their products to private residences--including dormitories--be required to ask for identification from the person who receives the order as opposed to merely requiring proof of age for the person who purchases the alcohol, as is now the law.

Other city councillors suggested that Boston impose a ban on the home delivery of all alcoholic beverages.

Most students at the College would not be subject to this policy because campus housing is within Cambridge city limits.

But just as Boston leaders discussed possible city-wide policies, the University considers its own approaches to the problem.

Harvard University Police Chief Francis D. "Bud" Riley, who spoke at yesterday's hearing, said in an interview afterwards that "delivery of alcoholic beverages to the [Harvard] community is under discussion."

Currently, Harvard upperclass students who are 21 years or older can have alcohol delivered to their houses, provided they fill out a registration form.

Some students said they do not think that a ban on house alcohol delivery would make much of a difference.