New Alcohol Policy Confuses HoCos

While the College’s new alcohol policy attempts to standardize regulations across all Undergraduate Houses, House Committee (HoCo) chairs say implementation of and communication about the policy has been uneven and slow.

Many HoCo chairs say the new rules remained unclear to them until representatives from University Hall clarified the policy at a retreat for HoCo executives Sunday morning in Radcliffe Yard.

The new rules were presented to the Committee on House Life (CHL) two weeks ago by the College dean’s office. The rules include banning hard alcohol at Stein Clubs, prohibiting house-list advertising for private parties, and requiring students to register all social gatherings further in advance. The policy is currently a working draft, meaning that it is in effect but subject to change pending a Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote.

Troy C. Murrell ’09, a Mather HoCo co-chair, said that while he appreciated the College’s efforts to clarify the regulations, he was alarmed by how little it seemed his counterparts in other Houses knew about the rules to begin with.

“Most of the chairs at the retreat hadn’t learned about the policy. Many didn’t know hard liquor was banned or that the party deadline was made earlier,” Murrell said, adding that, unlike Mather, “none of the other Houses had taken steps to enforce the policy.”

Cabot HoCo Co-Chair Thomas R. Benson ’09 said that before last weekend’s retreat, he “knew that hard liquor was a very iffy area in the eyes of the College” but did not know that it was officially and explicitly prohibited at HoCo events.

“The administration wants a uniform policy on alcohol,” Murrell said, “but it’s strange that they’re not taking measures to enforce it, despite the fact that really only one House has implemented the policy.”

Jeffrey C. Holder ’09, a Dunster HoCo co-chair, said that he first heard about the policy changes from a Feb. 1 article in The Crimson, not from University Hall.

Numerous other HoCo chairs who attended the retreat said it shed light on what Undergraduate Council Vice President Randall S. Sarafa ’09 has called a “vague” policy.

But there remains a general misunderstanding of the policy among much of the undergraduate population, as evidenced by rumors circulating on numerous House e-mail lists.

In recent weeks, the myth that Beverage Authorization Teams (BAT) will be mandatory at House happy hours and Stein Clubs has spread across campus, electronically and otherwise.

Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II clarified yesterday that the working draft does not in fact include this stipulation. The option of employing BAT teams at Stein Clubs will remain up to the discretion of individual House masters, he wrote in an e-mailed statement.

The College has also decided to leave it to House masters to inform their students of the changes, leading to an uneven rate of communication.

“My tutor called a meeting and we had a big study break to explain the policy,” Holder said, adding that the Dunster House masters asked every tutor to hold similar study breaks.

Farther up the River, Eliot House Master Lino Pertile said he took no sweeping measures to inform students of the new policy.

“That would be an extraordinary thing for me to do,” Pertile said. “It will eventually make its way into the rules of the undergraduates, and I don’t feel it is my duty to tell the regular residents of everything that the College decides.”

Pertile said he did ensure that students in Eliot House leadership positions were aware of the changes at the beginning of the semester.

—Staff writer Charles J. Wells can be reached at