Ivy League universities change social policies
By Heather Szilagyi, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, January 11, 2013
Out of concern for student safety, many Ivy League universities have recently implemented changes to their alcohol policies and Greek system regulations. Like the College, several schools now limit freshman involvement in the Greek system and further regulate the drinks served at private parties, but most policies are tailored to address school-specific problems.
Cornell University, Brown University, Princeton University, Yale University and Dartmouth are members of the National College Health Improvement Project, a learning collaborative created by former College President Jim Yong Kim in 2011.
NCHIP aims to reduce hazardous drinking on college campuses through evidence-based solutions and share effective practices with the 32 schools involved in the collaborative, special assistant to the president for student health Aurora Matzkin ‘97 said.
While NCHIP provides beneficial information, many schools have adapted their regulations in response to campus-specific incidents.
The Cornell Good Samaritan protocol recently changed to reflect a broader law put in place by the state of New York, while the its new Greek system policy resulted from an alcohol-related hazing death in the spring of 2011, Cornell alcohol projects coordinator Deborah Lewis said.
The Good Samaritan protocol, which provides amnesty to students seeking assistance and those who help them, was expanded to cover medical emergencies related to drugs other than alcohol in the past year, she said.
Additionally, new rules concerning alcohol and freshman involvement with the Greek system were implemented two years ago, according to Lewis.
This policy, known as the “Quarter System,” divides the year into quarters by dividing each academic semester in half. During the first quarter, freshmen are not allowed to have any contact with the Greek system, and during the second they cannot attend events where alcohol is present. The third quarter and the beginning of spring semester mark new member recruitment, and the final quarter is a shortened new member period without alcohol, Lewis said.
John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources at Yale, said Yale’s tailgate policy changed after a student driving a rented vehicle fatally struck a bystander. A new fraternity rush policy was implemented in response to an incident in which fraternity pledges chanted rape-related comments. A video of the pledges went viral and subjected the fraternity culture at Yale to national scrutiny.
Beer kegs are now banned at tailgate events and freshmen are prohibited from rushing fraternities during fall semester, he said.
Yale sophomore Madison Alworth said that she is content with the university’s alcohol policies and feels safe on campus.
“Yale policy has always abided by Connecticut state law, but they are much more aware of the fact that we are students,” she said.
Princeton president Shirley Tilghman approved recommendations made by the Committee on Freshmen Rush Policy to effectively ban freshmen from rushing Greek houses. Any freshman who attempts to rush a Greek house or any upperclassman who allows a freshman to rush will be suspended, according to The Daily Princetonian. The university does not officially recognize Greek organizations and therefore relies on suspension to deter students from rushing rather than implementing a ban outright.
The policy, which went into effect on Sept. 1 also prohibits first-year attendance at any event sponsored by a fraternity or sorority. Students and members of Greek organizations widely criticized the ban, the Princetonian reported.
Princeton freshman Shruthi Deivasigamani said that the new policy did not affect her and that the eating clubs on campus usually supersede the popularity of Greek organizations.
“I personally don’t think it’s a big deal because I wasn’t planning on rushing anyway,” she said. “But I know people who feel more vehemently about it.”
The university’s alcohol policies are not very strict and students generally have a large degree of freedom, Deivasigamani said.
Despite the similarities among recent policy changes, there is no way to effectively compare them across at different universities, Princeton media specialist Mike Caddell said in an email to The Dartmouth.
“Our position is that each institution will make its own policy decisions based on what suits specific needs or concerns,” he said.
Margaret Klawunn, Brown vice president for campus life and student services, said that the university has not made any changes recently, but is looking closely at Greek organizations and general alcohol policies and is participating in discussions through NCHIP.
The university is still analyzing a survey of its student body that resulted from its NCHIP work and began “Free Food Fridays” to provide food when students are generally “pre-gaming,” she said.
Brown is currently working on a proposal to train students as bartenders to staff some Greek events, she said. Currently, registered parties with alcohol at the University are required to hire bartenders.
Ivy Alphonse-Leja, a junior at Brown, said that students think the University has become unnecessarily harsh in enforcing regulations, and many students do not understand the alcohol policies.
“Speaking as someone who is involved in a Greek organization, I know the university is cracking down on us,” she said.
Brown senior Mike Rose said that the university is practicing stricter enforcement and inspecting dorms more often.
Harvard University, while not part of NCHIP, began its effort to update the its alcohol policy in January 2010, Harvard senior communications officer Jeff Neal said in an email to The Dartmouth.
In November, the Harvard faculty voted to ban high-risk competitive drinking games and create more guidelines for private parties and house events, according to The Harvard Crimson. The new policies also loosen restrictions on the types of alcohol that can be served at formals.
Harvard freshman Gabbie Giugliano said that while the university takes certain precautions like banning alcohol in freshmen dorms, its polices are generally fair.
“I think Harvard is both smart and safe about alcohol, especially compared to other schools,” she said.
Dartmouth’s recently updated alcohol and Greek life policies include allowing Safety and Security to conduct random walkthroughs of Greek organizations and enforcing harsher punishments for houses caught serving pre-made batch drinks, also known as punch.
Coordinator of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Educational and Leadership Initiatives Sam Waltemeyer, who works with students in planning social events where alcohol will be present to comply with Student Event Management Procedures, said that students’ reactions to new policies have varied.
The Dartmouth College Health Improvement Project, a branch of NCHIP, does not implement policies itself, but reports to the President’s Office and the Dean’s Office, Matzkin said.
Recently, DCHIP has expanded the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students program, or BASICS, from small pilot tests to a program that now encompasses all varsity athletes, she said.
Because schools across the country have a host of different problems pertaining to high-risk behavior, collaboration with other colleges and universities is often about specific applications of certain projects, she said.
For example, it would be ineffective for Dartmouth to directly adopt practices from schools that have a large bar scene, but comparing how schools implement BASICS is useful, Matzkin said.
It is important to collaborate with schools across the country to learn best practices, Waltemeyer said.
“It’s more important that we don’t stick exclusively to Ivy League schools,” he said. “There are other schools doing some rock star stuff.”