After a yearlong review, Penn’s alcohol policies are changing for the better.
The pilot policy, which takes effect later this month, will allow mixed drinks at certain registered parties and open on-campus venues for students to host events with alcohol.
Penn has made a commendable attempt to stay in touch with campus culture while striving to improve students’ safety within the constraints of the drinking age.
The pilot policy also aims to diversify Penn’s homogenous social scene — one that is dominated by fraternities that host parties off campus — by creating equal opportunities for Greek and non-Greek organizations to host registered parties.
But the new rules are far from perfect.
Groups will still be required to have a bartender and security presence at registered events. While students may apply for University funds to subsidize security costs, it will still be more expensive to host a registered party than to host one that is not. This is bound to deter student groups — particularly non-Greek organizations that tend to have a smaller budget for social events — from registering parties.
The truth is, nothing short of lowering the drinking age will offer a meaningful solution to Penn’s drinking culture.
The drinking age poses a key obstacle to the University’s policy since no group — whether Greek or non-Greek — will want to throw a registered party that prevents three-fourths of undergraduates from attending.
Penn President Amy Gutmann has openly expressed support for lowering the drinking age to 18. In 2008, she told The Daily Pennsylvanian that it is “unrealistic” to prevent a demographic that can vote and serve in the military from drinking. She explained that there is no reason for a constitutional democracy, like the United States, to uphold a law that so many people violate.
Penn’s pilot will not put an end to underage drinking or underground parties. It does, however, provide more incentives for groups to register their parties and marks a step in the right direction.
But it will be up to students to test drive the policy and send our feedback to the administration. Penn is making an effort to be in touch with its student body — so let’s meet them halfway.
Register to host a mixer in Houston Hall or a wine and cheese night in 1920 Commons. Penn will be accepting applications under the new policy rules in two weeks and the first registered parties will be held after Fall Break. So start planning.