Alcohol policy is a drop in the bucket


Photo by Candace diCarlo

Mark Metzl (C’00) did not want to be photographed with a bottle of alcohol.

Metzl acknowledges, “The alcohol issues probably define my term as [IFC] president, but I’d like to think my personality goes beyond that.”

However, as president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), a member of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse and a member of the Alcohol Rapid Response Team, Metzl understands his key role in the University’s concerns about the risk of alcohol abuse on campus. Since the tragic death of Penn alumnus Michael Tobin last spring, he has been in the midst of the University’s discussions.

Metzl’s involvement with alcohol education emerged from a long-standing interest in human welfare. Originally involved with the IFC as the vice president of Academics and Community Service, he took on the presidency “not to take on the alcohol issue at Penn, but really because I felt that in that capacity I could have a large impact on a good percentage of the student body, especially in terms of academic support and community outreach. Then, as president, I was head of a system in which a large number of the social events involve alcohol.”

He had to become involved in training in risk management procedures and in health education regarding alcohol abuse to better perform his job of encouraging safety at campus events.

Those aren’t the only skills Metzl honed while in office. “I’ve learned how to collaborate with people with different perspectives on the same issue. I represent a large constituency — over 1,500 students — so I have to balance the concerns of these students and the administration. We want a low-risk social environment in which students have fun. … I’ve also learned how to talk to the media and time management skills.”

Certainly, his responses reveal careful thought. Concerning the renegotiation of Stalag 2000, Metzl said he hoped the University is serious and committed to increased social options on campus. “I feel there is a need for such an on-campus social outlet, and any effort the University makes in increasing social options is a step in the right direction.”

Metzl, who is a biochemistry and environmental studies double major, is also active on the Eating Disorders Task Force and the Academic Integrity Task Force and is applying to medical school for next year. “The reason why I want to be a doctor is that I think it’s really important to impact in any capacity and in anything you take on, you should do it because, A. you enjoy it, and because B. you can positively affect other people. … I’m interested in the health and well-being of human beings. That’s how you can tie my majors and these issues about alcohol abuse and everything together.”

In the meantime, the Highland Park, Ill., native is trying to make the most of his senior year. “I’ve been trying to make time for those talks with friends that everyone says you’re supposed to have.”

Despite the University’s continuing focus on alcohol use on campus, Metzl remains committed to using his influence to better other areas of student life. “I really see the fraternity system as a wonderful resource in the University. Currently, we’re working on increasing student-faculty interaction and academic initiatives, which I believe is more important than the alcohol issue that everyone seems to have grabbed onto.”


Originally published on November 11, 1999