Administrators Discuss Alcohol and Student Safety

DAPA Panel
Keren E. Rohe

Harvard administrators answer student questions regarding the Ad Board, the amnesty policy, and how disciplinary action is taken at the College. The panel was hosted by DAPA, and featured panelists such as John "Jay" L. Ellison and HUPD Chief Francis D. "Bud" Riley.

Harvard officials fielded questions on the College’s drug, alcohol, and amnesty policies during a panel attended by an audience of about 20 undergraduates yesterday evening.

The talk—organized by the Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisors—included a warning against the dangers of the popular alcoholic drink Four Loko and a frank discussion about marijuana and underage drinking on campus.

The chief of the Harvard University Police Department, College administrators, and a Harvard University Health Services medical director worked to reassure the audience that the College prioritizes the safety and well-being of undergraduates.

“How many people here know anybody we’ve arrested for underage drinking?” HUPD Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley asked the audience.

When no one raised their hand, Riley said, “In the 15 years I’ve been here, we’ve never done it.”


“For a student to get arrested by us, they have to work really hard,” he added.

John “Jay” L. Ellison, secretary of the Administrative Board—the College’s primary disciplinary body—recounted one incident when he, a Cambridge Police Department officer, and a HUPD officer encountered a student passed out under a parked vehicle.

“A police officer asked him for an ID and he pulled out a bag of pot,” Ellison said.

The officer proceeded to empty the marijuana into a nearby patch of grass. The student was not arrested, nor was he asked to meet with the Ad Board, Ellison said. Instead, he received medical care.

When students are brought to UHS, their follow-up tends to consist of a meeting with their resident dean and medical consultations, which Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson called “a philosophical decision that Harvard has made.”

“What research tells us is that one of the most effective ways to intervene is a follow-up consultation, and we’re treating it like what it is: a medical issue,” Nelson said.

Harvard officials also expressed concern over a new popular 24-ounce drink called Four Loko. Gregory Johnson, medical director for the Stillman Infirmary and after-hours/urgent care, said the drink was troubling because of the combination of stimulants with concentrated amounts of alcohol.

“It’s a real bad brew,” he said. “Badness in a can.”

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at

—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at