Planned revisions to the University alcohol policy will be drafted next week and publicized to the campus community soon after winter break, Alcohol Response Team members announced last night.
Formed to address Penn's drinking culture and the 5-year-old University alcohol policy, ART is composed of a select group of faculty, student leaders and staff.
The committee met for the first time this year following the two-story fall and resulting critical injury of College junior Matthew Paris. The Pi Kappa Alpha brother sustained serious head injuries along with other traumas after reportedly drinking 21 shots at a party on Sept. 18 -- his 21st birthday.
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.
At that time, University officials introduced sweeping policy changes, which many believe have since proved ineffective.
Along with suggested revisions to the current alcohol policy, the ART report will also present what group Chairman and Interim Provost Peter Conn characterized as "concrete programmatic next steps."
More abstract than specific, these steps seek to address broader questions about how to improve students' attitude about alcohol.
"What should the University, in collaboration with its own students, be doing differently, or more of or less of? How will our practices actually change?" Conn said, citing questions the report aims to address.
After community review, suggestions will be considered and then ART's proposal will be given to the president and the provost for approval. At that point, the suggestions will almost certainly be implemented, given Conn's concurrent roles as ART chairman and interim provost.
ART committee member and UA Chairman Jason Levine stressed the impact the report may have on campus.
"I don't think they're by any means radical -- they are significant," Levine said of the suggestions that will be put in the report.
"I think the report will be more geared toward the implementation of changes and not just semantics changes in the wording of the policy," Levine said. "For that reason, I think the campus will view the changes positively and see a brighter future to this campus' alcohol culture."
Conn also reflected positively on ART's work, noting the importance of the engagement among the students, faculty and staff on the committee.
"It has been extremely gratifying. ... Everyone has come to each meeting prepared to offer serious analysis," he said. "I think we all found it very educational."
This semester, the committee prepared to make suggestions by focusing on high-risk drinking behaviors and current preventative policies. Students in Alcoholics Anonymous made a presentation to ART during its second meeting.
"I think it's been a very honest committee, and for that reason, we've been able to be productive," Levine said.
Yet, ART members do not expect their work to bring instantaneous improvement.
"This is the kind of thing where it's hard to see immediate change," Levine said.Comments powered by Disqus
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