FOR COMMENT by June 30, 1999

To the University Community:

On Monday, April 26, I received the final report of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse which began its work on March 30.

I am grateful for the enormous amount of time and thoughtful consideration that the members of the Working Group put into this report in order to have it ready for campus comment before the end of the term.

Their intensive and careful deliberations have yielded recommendations for a comprehensive approach to alcohol abuse intended to strengthen efforts to encourage responsible decisions about alcohol; promote safe, healthy, and legal patterns of social interaction; and create a significant change in campus culture. The analysis and recommendations of the Working Group merit your careful attention and input.

I am calling for comment as the next phase in the consultation process. In order to ensure that you have time to deliberate, we have established a lengthy period--until June 30--for comments. Please respond to or write to me directly at

I will also be contacting the leaders of several campus organizations during the comment period to solicit further input.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Judith Rodin, President

Introduction | Education | Ensuring a Supportive Environment | Responsibility & Accountability | Minimizing Risk | Expanded Social Options | Recommendation for Immediate Implementation

Final Report of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Identify all existing University areas where alcohol education takes place, effectively market those areas, and ensure that those areas collaborate as appropriate.
  6. Develop "Healthlinks" as a liaison to health services and information as part of the WHEEL program in the College Houses.
  7. Create opportunities for curricular integration of alcohol issues in each of the undergraduate schools.
  8. Support increased peer education efforts through DART and similar organizations, and expand initiatives such as the Greek Alcohol Education program to other student organizations.
  9. Provide additional resources and/or personnel for the Office of Health Ed-ucation.
  10. Utilize available resources like the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, which provide support for campuses throughout the country.
  11. 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.

Ensuring a Supportive Environment

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 intoxicated student."

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.

Responsibility and Accountability

Individual Responsibility and Accountability

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 following:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Adverse consequences will be consistent and specific and should appropriately escalate for students who repeatedly violate University regulations.
  5. 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.
  6. A personal responsibility statement should be developed that students would sign prior to their matriculation at Penn.

Group Responsibility and Accountability

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 that:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Minimizing Risk

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.

  1. Through further discussions with students and faculty leaders, the definition of a registered undergraduate event should be clarified and broadened.
  2. 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 environment.
  3. 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 policy.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. The current Third Party Vendor agreement (modified if appropriate), will be mandatory and strictly enforced for all registered Third Party events.

Expanded Social Options

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 include:

  1. 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 2 a.m.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A late-night, alcohol-free music club should be established on or near campus.
  5. Late-night intramural athletic and recreation opportunities should be increased.
  6. Intercollegiate recreational and athletic events should be aggressively marketed to increase student attendance.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. A marketing strategy should be developed to promote the Perelman Quadrangle and other student facilities as a focus of student activity.

Recommendation for Immediate Implementation

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.

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, English
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, Professor, English
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 Sigma
Sanjay Udani, Member, GAPSA
Jennifer Baldino, Director of External Affairs, Office of the President
Nancy Nowicki, Executive Director of External Affairs, Office of the Provost

Introduction | Education | Ensuring a Supportive Environment | Responsibility & Accountability | Minimizing Risk | Expanded Social Options | Recommendation for Immediate Implementation

Posted 4/29/99