Following an increased effort on the part of the College to discourage students from engaging in dangerous drinking practices, the Office of Student Life has allocated an additional $3500 to each of the 12 residential Houses to support “alternative programming” on weekend nights.
The College is in the process of reviewing its current drinking guidelines, with the goal of drafting a new alcohol policy by the end of this academic year.
The money was given to the Houses as a “new, experimental effort to support alcohol-free programs over the course of the academic year,” Assistant Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich wrote in an email, adding that the OSL intends for the money to be spent on weekend activities “with a focus on weekend nights”—though the Houses have final say on the way in which the money is spent.
“I think the purpose of it was to provide alternatives to going out to the final clubs and drinking your brains out,” Adams House Master John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67. “We’re happy to try to do that.”
He added that although he saw merit in the OSL’s focus on nighttime events, he thought restricting the money to late-night activities was “not particularly conducive to the long term.” Palfrey said that he planned to loosely interpret the OSL’s instructions to include activities with “any vague connection” to discouraging alcohol consumption. So far, Adams has used a portion of the money for a Saturday morning apple-picking excursion earlier this fall.
“Anyone who wanted to go is unlikely to have stayed up and gotten totally drunk the night before,” Palfrey said.
Other Houses have used the OSL funds for a variety of activities, ranging from square dancing to movie nights to pumpkin carving. Cabot House, for example, held an outdoor movie night and provided food on weekend nights for hungry Quad residents in search of late night snacks.
Cabot House Master Stephanie R. Khurana said that the House is testing a number of different activities and soliciting student feedback before it decides how to spend the rest of the money.
“We’re just trying to figure out where we can make the biggest impact,” Khurana said.
Friedrich wrote that the College plans to evaluate the success of the program at the end of the year to determine if it will provide similar funding in the future.
The encouragement of alternative late night activities is the latest in a College-wide effort to address dangerous drinking habits among Harvard undergraduates.
Last semester, Houses began designating “responsible adults” to serve drinks at House events. Around the same time, the College mandated that only beer and wine—not hard alcohol—could be served at off-campus formals that semester.
But changes during the spring semester represent a temporary fix to what administrators perceive to be a larger problem. To address this, Harvard formed a committee last year to review the College’s standing rules on alcohol, which will continue to meet this year and submit a proposal for a new alcohol policy to Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds by the end of the spring semester.
—Monika L. S. Robbins contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.