A select committee of students, faculty and administrators met last night in response to both College junior Matthew Paris' drinking-related critical injury, in particular, and the drinking culture at Penn, in general.
This meeting of the Alcohol Response Team is one prong of three responses the University has put forth following Paris' two-story fall at a Psi Upsilon party on Sept. 19.
In addition to convening ART, University officials said they are focused on comforting the Paris family. Student Health Services Director Evelyn Wiener visits Paris daily and provides updates to Interim Provost Peter Conn's office about the student's condition.
An Office of Student Conduct investigation constitutes the third arm of the University's response. The investigation will likely be completed in the next two weeks, but results will remain confidential, according to Conn.
If the OSC implicates any Greek houses rather than individuals, the violations will be aired through the national organizations and through the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
While the latter two parts of Penn's response will remain mostly shadowed from the public, ART's actions may impact the wider University community.
"I believe it is the president's and provost's intention for this to be a standing committee," InterFraternity Council President Conor O'Callaghan said. "I think recommendations will be made on an ongoing basis rather than [through] a final report."
Although the 17 members of the group made no concrete decisions in their first meeting, they may go on to reconsider the University's drinking policy, according to Conn.
ART is the lineal descendant of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse that was formed in 1999 following the drinking-related death of alumnus Michael Tobin at the Phi Gamma Delta house.
The group was formed to respond to situations "not unlike the one we find ourselves in today," Office of the Provost spokeswoman Nancy Nicely said, referring to Paris' fall.
Conn, however, emphasized that since it has been five years since the alcohol policy was last seriously revised, University officials were already looking to reconsider it this year.
The five-year span "should probably all by itself alert us to the need to take stock," he said.
ART will continue to meet over the upcoming weeks, but the number of meetings remains undetermined, as does the group's long-term agenda.
"It isn't clear to me whether we will identify certain particular projects we want to take forward," Conn said.
The group might, he said, address initiatives relating specifically to high-risk groups of students.
Thus far, "we only spent a little time looking directly at the policy," Conn said, calling last night's meeting "lively" and "wonderfully candid."
O'Callaghan was also optimistic about the group.
"I think ART is a very proactive step by the University," he said.
Conn emphasized that he wants to air the views of the students on ART, calling the topic at hand "one where students have a right to be principled."
"We spent more of our time simply discussing with each other our various perspectives on what might be called the campus culture" and how it relates to drinking, he said.
While ART member and Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Jason Levine said that he does not "want to go in with any preconceived notions about the [current alcohol] policy," he expects ART to make great strides.
"This is pretty important, and we're always looking to make progress."Comments powered by Disqus
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