Editorial | Policy changes should focus on reducing harm
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 07:10
In our Features section today, the article “Changes to student programs reflect fluctuating social landscape” examines the changing face of campus traditions. Over the past few years, the Tufts community has seen many changes in administrative policy on certain social events, ranging from Spring Fling going dry to the end of the Naked Quad Run to an altered Tufts Wilderness Orientation to pared−down Tufts Dance Collective shows.
The administration seeks to curb what many agree is excessive alcohol consumption on campus. In order for these policies centered on binge drinking to be effective, we believe it is absolutely necessary that the administration continues to work on building a nonthreatening relationship with the student body while backing up that information with policy that focuses on harm reduction.
It is crucial that the administration is vigilant about student safety, and that has been its main motive in pushing these changes on Tufts’ social scene. Its concerns are legitimate — in past years there have been severe incidents, notably 2009’s Spring Fling, which was deemed a mass casualty incident after many students were hospitalized. The following year, Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman told the Daily, “We cannot have a year like last year when there were close to 100 people taken to the hospital for consuming too much alcohol.”
But in its attempts to fix Tufts’ drinking problem and keep students safe, the administration must make sure to emphasize policies that do not push drinking to extremes and send it further underground. The administration must hone in on reducing the possible harm that comes from unsafe drinking tendencies by keeping the conversation open and the system forgiving so students with drinking problems can get help without fear of hard−line disciplinary action. A focus on encouraging safe drinking for all students — as was emphasized to this year’s freshmen — is key.
Widespread misunderstanding of TEMS’ policy perpetuates a fear among students to TEMS a friend, even though their life may be at stake. Indeed, according to Dean Reitman, the number of TEMS calls remained static after policy changes that took place between 2010 and 2011.
In the end, changes to the social landscape are those deemed important for student safety. We do believe members of the administration have our best interests at heart when it engages in these policies, but we hope they remember that their policies can only truly be successful with a nuanced approach.