Alcohol Policy: Spring Fling and Beyond

In two meetings last week the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse chaired by Provost Robert Barchi dealt with last-minute proposals on the eve of Spring Fling, but continued to work on other issues in prevention of alcohol abuse. From summaries issued by the his office:

April 13: Tuesday night in a two-hour meeting, the WGAA heard from three of its subcommitees Health and Safety; Responsibility/Accountability (of individuals and groups) and Alcohol Abuse (how to minimize risk and how to increase social options that do not involve alcohol) and discussed their preliminary recommendations.

April 14: The Working Group discussed the merits of modifying the temporary ban on alcohol at registered undergraduate events for Spring Fling, and of lifting the ban on a temporary basis for Fling events--but members concluded that "modifying the ban at this time would be irresponsible without the proper safeguards, education, and enforcement mechanisms in place."

Some early recommendations to the President were approved, adding five new events to the Fling schedule. The Working Group also "expressed its concern that students be made aware of what level and types of enforcement they could expect this weekend," the Provost's Office report said. "They agreed that it was important to communicate to the student body what to expect." The statement continued:

To that end, Provost Barchi assured the group that the University, and UPPD's first priority this weekend, as always, will be the health and safety of Penn students. He did remind the group that University policy, local, state and federal laws would continue to be enforced and that students should remember that Fling is traditionally a weekend in which the LCE and Philadelphia police will also be monitoring campus and off-campus activity.

He added that no student assisting another student in a medical emergency nor the student who is in danger will be penalized as a result of seeking medical treatment.

Further, Provost Barchi said that quiet parties and quiet activities in private residences should not be areas of concern. As they do each year at Fling, the police will be present throughout the weekend and will enforce University, local, state and federal regulations, as appropriate.

The WGAA ended by saying it would refine its recommendations over the next several meetings, and expects to deliver a report to the President shortly.

Undergraduate Searches: A flurry of e-mail and phone calls rose in the College House system Friday night, some from students affronted at having their bookbags searched as they came home to their dorms, and others reporting that guards were confiscating beverages from students over 21. Later it emerged that many staff as well as students in the House system were unaware of pre-Fling search customs--and that some guards were also unaware that moderate amounts of alcohol are allowed to those who are of legal age.

Friday the VPUL issued the following letter, circulated widely via e-mail:

To Penn Undergraduate Students

With the approach of Spring Fling, the security guards who are regularly stationed at undergraduate residences have been inspecting packages carried by students as they enter the buildings. The purpose is to determine if the packages contain alcohol. Under the guidance of Penn's Department of Public Safety, this same practice has been carried out in past years prior to and during Spring Fling.

If a student is found to be carrying alcohol, he or she will be asked for proof of age. If 21 or older, the student will be allowed to take a maximum of two six-packs of beer or one bottle of spirits into the residence.

If a student attempting to carry alcohol into an undergraduate residence is found to be underage, the security guard will hold the student's PENNCard and call campus police. The police will come to the scene and issue a citation to the student.

Please have a healthy, safe, and fun Fling.

--Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 29, April 20, 1999