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The College has temporarily barred Houses from holding events in night clubs, citing safety concerns raised by incidents both at Harvard and around the country.
Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth ’71 said in a meeting with a student Thursday that Houses would need to present him with detailed information about their plans before he would approve any such events. While Illingworth said that his concerns could be addressed in a timely fashion, some students worried the rules would effectively ban spring formals in clubs.
Illingworth said yesterday that an injury to a student at a Harvard-Yale weekend club night and the recent tragedies at Rhode Island and Chicago night clubs necessitate increased caution.
“There are safety concerns—the capacity of the clubs, lateness of the hours, transportation to and from, fire,” Illingworth said. “These are places that we don’t know.”
Illingworth said that he wants to review clubs’ inspection records, consider plans for the event and perhaps see the venues first-hand.
“All these concerns could be ameliorated; we just need to get the information,” he said.
Illingworth stressed that underage drinking was not a prime factor behind the decision.
“Drinking is the least of it, because the clubs have liquor licenses that are very valuable to them and they wouldn’t want to risk doing anything to lose their license,” Illingworth said. “But liquor is a concern when you think of the idea of Harvard students perhaps being intoxicated, in Boston at 3 a.m. without public transportation, and in areas where we have no jurisdiction.”
Kirkland House Committee Chair Sloan J. Eddleston ’04 learned of the policy Thursday when he met with Illingworth and other College administrators to discuss a proposed Kirkland and Pforzheimer house club night.
Illingworth suggested that Eddleston and the Kirkland and Pforzheimer House committees put together a proposal with more information about club policies and practices for him, the Committee on House Life and the Committee on College Life to review.
Eddleston said he understood Illingworth’s concerns, but worried that the Houses would not be able to adequately address them in time.
“It’s a temporary thing and can be changed through some legitimate process,” Eddleston said. “But I didn’t feel like that was the most likely scenario.”
“It does affect the spring formals,” Eddleston said. “I was more or less told that we couldn’t have any Harvard sponsored event in a club.”
Undergraduate Council Campus Life Committee Chair Michael R. Blickstead ’04 said he encountered similar obstacles from the deans’ office when planning an event last year.
“With all the red tape at Harvard, it’s going to take a while,” Blickstead said.
Blickstead and Eddleston also said they didn’t agree with Illingworth’s rationale in drawing a distinction between clubs and other potential party venues, such as hotels.
Illingworth said that hotels have a “different atmosphere,” and in general make for safer parties.
“Some of [Illingworth’s] points didn’t really click,” Eddleston said. “The fact of the matter is, transportation is going to be an issue no matter where you go. Illicit drug use can happen anywhere.”
Clubs also have benefits that can’t be found in hotels or other venues, Eddleston said.
“We’re dealing with a place that costs less, where people have more fun,” Eddleston said. “But we’re essentially being told we can’t have it there because the name of the institution is a club.”
Eddleston said he thought the lessons of recent night club tragedies are being misapplied.
“It’s just really a shame because I feel like the deans’ initiative stems from genuine concern for students, but in that sense it’s misguided,” Eddleston said.
“They cited the Rhode Island incident four times, but that was a concert, with pyrotechnics, completely different then anything we would imagine.”
—Staff writer Katharine A. Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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