The Working Group on Alcohol Abuse was formed by President Judith Rodin and
Provost Robert Barchi in response to a number of serious alcohol-related
incidents involving Penn students and the death of a Penn alumnus on March 21,
1999. The Working Group of 15 students and 7 faculty members and administrators
was charged by President Rodin on March 30, 1999. The President asked the group
to develop practical, substantive recommendations regarding alcohol abuse among
Penn undergraduates on both individual and community levels.
The Working Group and its subcommittees met intensively for five weeks. Its
members determined that their work should focus on alcohol abuse, not
use, and that their goal would be to produce recommendations that would effect
significant cultural change among Penn undergraduates. They agreed that the
University already has in place reasonable regulations governing appropriate use
of alcohol on campus but that the current system of enforcement presents a
number of problems, which perpetuate a sense of entitlement felt by Penn
students and lead to additional problems. The Group concluded that stricter
enforcement of current policies is needed, designed with the intention of
creating a change in attitudes regarding acceptable behavior. Consistency should
be the ultimate aim; uncertainty regarding what is acceptable and what is not
contributes to the problems associated with alcohol abuse and with problematic
behavior that often results from excessive drinking.
The Group quickly determined that the problem of alcohol abuse is not
confined to the Greek system and that a more comprehensive approach to the
problem is necessary. The Working Group strongly agreed that the primary
responsibility for changing perceptions, misperceptions and, ultimately,
behavior relating to alcohol abuse rests with individual students and student
groups. The Working Group considered ways to prevent alcohol abuse in the
context of Education; Ensuring a Supportive Environment;
Responsibility/Accountability; Minimizing Risk; and Expanded Social Options. The
Working Group strongly agreed that its recommendations should be proactive
rather than punitive.
Health education is a crucial part of a successful strategy to prevent
alcohol abuse. Education eradicates misperceptions about alcohol use among
peers, creates opportunities for open, honest dialogue about alcohol use and
abuse, and is critical to creating a change in campus culture. Recommended
approaches to health education are to:
- Establish effective primary and secondary prevention methods. Primary refers
to those efforts that are designed to reach individuals/groups before they
engage in “at-risk” behaviors. Secondary refers to those efforts that are
designed to reach individuals/groups after they have engaged in “at-risk”
behaviors, but before a pattern of usage has developed.
- Ensure that every Penn student and parent or guardian receives alcohol
health education from multiple sources when students are pre-freshmen (e.g.,
send the Alcohol 101 CD-ROM the summer before they arrive at Penn), during New
Student Orientation (e.g., follow up with group discussions of the Alcohol 101
CD), and in each year of their undergraduate education.
- Create more opportunities for students to “Speak Out” if they have had
adverse experiences with alcohol abuse and want to share those experiences with
their peers in public meetings, through websites and in other formats.
- Create a student-driven social marketing campaign to correct student
mis-perceptions about alcohol use and abuse, based on a survey of prior
experiences at peer institutions.
- Identify all existing University areas where alcohol education takes place,
effectively market those areas, and ensure that those areas collaborate as
- Develop “Healthlinks” as a liaison to health services and information as
part of the WHEEL program in the College Houses.
- Create opportunities for curricular integration of alcohol issues in each of
the undergraduate schools.
- Support increased peer education efforts through DART and similar
organizations, and expand initiatives such as the Greek Alcohol Education
program to other student organizations.
- Provide additional resources and/or personnel for the Office of Health
- Utilize available resources like the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and
Other Drug Prevention, which provide support for campuses throughout the
- Establish Penn 101 as a freshman seminar. Penn 101 would provide an
innovative approach to dealing with the freshman experience in a practical,
discussion-oriented setting, as well as with formulaic scholarly discussion of
relevant topics like alcohol and other drug use/abuse. Undergraduate social
men-tors would act as teaching assistants to faculty members and facilitate
conversation through a group listserv prior to the students’ arrival at Penn.
In order to inspire cultural change that will help reduce alcohol abuse,
students must feel that they are supported by the University, are encouraged to
take responsible actions and are understood to be critical stakeholders in the
consultative process. Recommendations to achieve that end include:
1. A student seeking alcohol-related medical assistance and/or a friend that
accompanies him/her should not receive a citation. In addition, to ensure that
students will not hesitate to seek medical assistance when necessary, the
University policy must be clearly written and well publicized.
The Alcohol and Drug policy from The Pennbook page 23, section C,
should be modified as follows:
“In cases of intoxication and/or alcohol poisoning, the primary concern is
the health and safety of the individual(s) involved. Individuals are strongly
encouraged to call for medical assistance for themselves or for a
friend/acquaintance who is dangerously intoxicated. No student seeking
medical treatment for an alcohol or other drug-related overdose will be subject
to University discipline for the sole violation of using or possessing alcohol
or drugs. This policy shall extend to another student seeking help for the
2. To consolidate the education, counseling, and treatment of alcohol related
issues, the position of Alcohol Coordinator should be created. This position
should provide a confidential source to address all areas of concern related to
alcohol and other drugs, to integrate policy and to enhance approaches to
student education and treatment of alcohol-related problems. The Coordinator
should also consult with the University police, discipline officers, HUP’s ER,
Student Health and CAPS about the effective integration of relevant policies,
enforcement and education.
3. The role of faculty and staff must be reevaluated to ensure the
student/faculty/staff relationship is not jeopardized. The primary
responsibility of faculty and staff should be toward helping students rather
than policing them, specifically in alcohol related situations. Our College
Houses, as well as our classrooms, must allow flexible solutions that will not
compromise faculty, staff and student relationships.
4. A standing Alcohol Rapid Response Team should be constituted to advise the
President and Provost on outstanding aspects of implementation that remain, with
issues of interpretation of intent, and with any urgent, new issues related to
alcohol abuse as they may arise. The Alcohol Rapid Response Team may coordinate
its efforts or seek advice from the existing University Alcohol and Other Drug
Task Force and from other relevant constituencies as appropriate.
Individual Responsibility and
With the understanding that alcohol education will be ongoing, and that
forums encouraging dialogue among Penn students will be more available and more
widely attended, the University must reinforce its commitment to the
- Recognition that the primary concern in this area, as in all others, is for
the health and welfare of our students and the University community.
- Acceptance and enforcement of University regulations regarding alcohol use
on campus and support for full enforcement of local, state and federal
regulations on and off-campus.
- Assurance that violations of these regulations will result in adverse
consequences consistent with policies of the University and its disciplinary
processes. The University will also support enforcement of all relevant local,
state and federal laws.
- Adverse consequences will be consistent and specific and should
appropriately escalate for students who repeatedly violate University
- Counseling and education will go hand-in-hand with adverse consequences in
the context of alcohol violations. Both should escalate simultaneously with
adverse consequences for students who repeatedly violate University regulations.
- A personal responsibility statement should be developed that students would
sign prior to their matriculation at Penn.
Group Responsibility and
While the decision to use alcohol is ultimately an individual one, we
rec-ognize that the providers of alcohol must share responsibility for the
problem and for the need to change their practices if an important change in
campus culture is to occur. With this in mind, the working group recommends
- All organizations hosting alcohol-related events, either registered or
unregistered, recognize their explicit and collective responsibility for
violations of University alcohol policy or of local, state or federal laws that
take place at, or as a consequence of, their events.
- Each student organization having more than 10 members and recognized by
DRIA, OFSA, SAC, OSL or the College Houses will have at least one member, in
addition to the organization’s leader or president, educated with regard to
alcohol abuse policy and able to provide referrals. Failure to meet this
requirement could lead to a loss of University recognition.
- All violations of alcohol policy during a sponsored event will result in
appropriate censure of the sponsoring organization. The current violation review
system should be reorganized to create a definitive hierarchy involving the IFC,
OFSA, OSC, CHAS, and Residential Violations Review Board.
- University alcohol regulations apply to group and individual behavior at
both on- and off-campus, registered and non-registered events, in addition to
any local, state or federal laws that may be applicable.
- Students will be encouraged to develop creative ways to congregate without
alcohol, which could range from parties with live music to movie nights to
cultural events in West Philadelphia and Center City, for example. Organizations
should apply to VPUL for supplemental funding for such events.
The goal of policies regarding alcohol abuse is to encourage students to make
responsible decisions about the use of alcohol, to control the volume and nature
of alcohol products available and, ultimately, to reduce the risk of
alcohol-related incidents that pose a threat to the health and welfare of
students and colleagues.
- Through further discussions with students and faculty leaders, the
definition of a registered undergraduate event should be clarified and
- Hard alcohol will be banned at all registered on-campus undergraduate
events. Hard alcohol will be allowed only at third-party vendor events, placing
hard alcohol with its relatively higher- risk potential in a lower-risk
- Alcohol distribution at all registered undergraduate events will end at 1
a.m.; events may continue until the currently mandated 2 a.m. closing time. Both
host and University monitors will share responsibility for enforcing this
- In order to reduce the risk of excess available alcohol, the University will
adopt a BYOB policy to be enforced for all on-campus registered undergraduate
alcohol-related events. Personal limit will be one six-pack of beer or
equivalent per person over 21 years of age. Organization members may personally
pre-purchase alcoholic beverages at the same limit of one six-pack of beer or
equivalent per of-age member.
- For all registered events, either on-campus or off-campus, bartenders will
be external to the host organization and at least 21 years of age. The
University will develop and support a mechanism for providing an adequate number
of trained individuals.
- All registered events will require non-alcohol consuming monitors identified
by the host organization, in a ratio of 1:50 to total expected guests. Monitors
must be registered prior to the event. The host monitors should be easily
identifiable by event participants and should be primarily concerned with
circumstances that might have an impact on health and safety.
- The policy of roving University-appointed monitors will be extended to
include all registered on-campus events, with at least one trained University
monitor per registered event. The University will develop mechanisms for
training and providing monitors.
- The University will support the enforcement of all University, local, state
and federal policies and laws by retail and wholesale distributers of alcohol on
or near campus.
- The current Third Party Vendor agreement (modified if appropriate), will be
mandatory and strictly enforced for all registered Third Party events.
In order to help shape a new campus culture, Penn students must lead the way
and work closely with University faculty and staff to help create more varied
social options. These options should not be seen as “alternatives” to drinking,
but rather as intrinsically appealing options for socializing. Recommendations
- Late night, weekend and early morning programs should be expanded to offer
more and varied social events throughout the week, particularly from 10 p.m. to
- Social options on and near campus should be increased such as movies,
bowling, pool halls and a videostore that remain open until 2 a.m.
- Retailers like Eat at Joe’s that are open past 2 a.m. should be cultivated
to provide late-night social options every night of the week. On-campus
restaurants should serve food to any student, regardless of age, throughout
their evening open restaurant hours.
- A late-night, alcohol-free music club should be established on or near
- Late-night intramural athletic and recreation opportunities should be
- Intercollegiate recreational and athletic events should be aggressively
marketed to increase student attendance.
- The University should facilitate greater collaboration with the City of
Philadelphia, utilizing programs such as the new “Penn and Philadelphia”
initiative. These programs serve to better market the City of Philadelphia’s
cultural and social options to Penn students and to make available better
information about city services such as SEPTA.
- The University should be strategically creative as it plans the
comprehensive renovation of the College House system. Plans should include the
creation of add-itional recreation space and common spaces that can be utilized
for coffee houses, pool halls, music rooms, or other spaces that can remain open
until at least 2 a.m.
- A marketing strategy should be developed to promote the Perelman Quadrangle
and other student facilities as a focus of student activity.
The Working Group on Alcohol Abuse strongly recommends that a WGAA Action
Team be formed as soon as these recommendations have been reviewed and accepted
by the President in order to move forward with implementation on those items
that can be put into place by the new academic year.
The Working Group on Alcohol Abuse submits its recommendations to President
Rodin on April 26, 1999. Preliminary documents and reports
of its work are available.
- Robert Barchi, Provost (Chair)
- Richard Adzei, Vice President, Big-C
- Samara Barend, Chairperson, Committee for Tangible Change
- Michael Bassik, Treasurer, UA
- Herman Beavers, Director, Afro-American Studies, Associate Professor,
- David Brownlee, Director, Office of College Houses and Academic Services,
Faculty Master, Harnwell College House, Professor, History of Art
- Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life
- Peter Conn, Chair-Elect, Faculty Senate, Faculty Director, Civic House,
- Bill Conway, Chairperson, UA
- Andrew Exum, Executive Vice President, IFC
- Steven Fechheimer, IFC Judicial Manager
- Elizabeth Gesas, Freshman, Goldberg College House
- Michele Goldfarb, Director, Office of Student Conduct
- Rebecca Iverson, President, Panhel
- Michael Kraver, Former President, SAM
- Megan MacDonald, President, DART
- Mark Metzl, President, IFC
- Philip Nichols, Faculty Master, Stouffer College House, Associate
Professor, Legal Studies
- Melanie Redmond, House Manager, DuBois College House
- Jed Ryan, Member, Penn Drinking Project, Tri-Captain, Men’s Basketball
- Jeffrey Snyder, Former VP for Rush, IFC. Former President, Phi Kappa
- Sanjay Udani, Member, GAPSA
- Jennifer Baldino, Director of External Affairs, Office of the
- Nancy Nowicki, Executive Director of External Affairs, Office of the
- Jennifer Baldino, Director of External Affairs, Office of the