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The University has formed a search committee to find and evaluate candidates for a new position to oversee all alcohol matters.
The post was recommended in the September report of the Committee to Address Alcohol and Health at Harvard, which met throughout last year.
The search committee is composed of students, faculty and administrators from the College and graduate schools. It will look primarily at candidates currently in similar positions at other universities, said Director of University Counseling, Academic Support and Mental Health Services Paul J. Barreira, who will oversee the alcohol leader.
Ideally, the post would be filled before the beginning of the next school year, Barreira said.
“It’s urgent that we get somebody because this is a critical area. But we want to get the right person, so if that means we don’t have someone until the next academic year, that’s what we’ll do,” Barreira said. “We don’t need to wait until we hire this person to start.”
The alcohol committee advocated the position as a way to implement other recommendations in the report. The new hire would work with student groups to address alcohol and organize dry events, communicate existing University policies, rework the role of tutors and proctors and improve coordination for large-scale events like the Harvard-Yale Game.
“The work this Committee recommends will be done even better if the accountable individual is deeply knowledgeable about alcohol-related efforts on other campuses and the research literature on student drinking,” the alcohol committee report stated.
This is the third coordinating position to be implemented in two years—following Barreira’s position and one to oversee sexual assault prevention and response.
Barreira added that the leader will work to “build consensus” across different segments of the University about attitudes toward alcohol.
“We need to talk to people and get them to agree that excessive drinking does diminish the quality of life in our community, and what are people prepared to do to address the issue,” Barreira said. “Until we do that, every program we do will fail because there won’t be a receptive audience.”
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