Dean Miller's Message to Parents, Fall 2012

Fall 2012

Dear Yale Parents,

Watching and supporting our eight Yale Olympians these past few weeks has made for excitement at a time when we usually think of resting and preparing for the start of the academic year. But it’s time to switch gears. With classes about to begin, I write to share with you some of the work we have been doing here on campus to support all our students. I also want to be sure you know where to turn when you have questions concerning your son or daughter.

Our academic calendar with its new five-day fall break in mid-October will give students time to renew their focus and energy long before the Thanksgiving recess. I am happy to report that for the October break we have received a gift to support an unprecedented number of faculty-led field trips, and so some professors will be taking undergraduates to quarries and road cuts, to the Cloisters Museum in New York, and to other locations, to enhance course curricula and stimulate student excitement in given fields. This new break may also give you an opportunity to see your son or daughter, although of course the residence halls will all remain open if it is more convenient for them to stay on campus. So mark your calendars: the break runs from Tuesday evening, October 23, through Sunday, October 28.

You know from my earlier letters to you that your daughter's or son's safety is my highest priority, and I particularly have in mind the risks that come from using alcohol and other drugs. I have therefore asked students, administrators, and faculty for their guidance and recommendations to promote safety across campus and at the same time to support extracurricular life. I recently announced to students some important changes that came from those recommendations, and I want to share them with you as well.

The Department of Athletics has adopted new tailgate rules, and these are now in effect. Under the new rules, kegs and vehicles will no longer be permitted in the student tailgate section, which has been relocated much closer to the student section inside the Yale Bowl, and student tailgates will end at kickoff. You will find all the new tailgate rules on the Athletic Department's website.

A new regulation delays until the spring term all rush activities for first-year students who wish to join sororities and fraternities, allowing new students to adjust to the rigors of college life and academics, establish their own routines and independent friendships, and explore the full range of activities available on campus. We hope this change will provide freshmen adequate time to orient themselves more thoroughly to the richness of the broad Yale experience.

To help masters, deans, and the Yale College Dean’s Office be alert to any emerging needs, hosts of off-campus parties for more than 50 people will now register them with the Yale College Dean's Office. By registering, hosts enable the Yale Police Department to reach them if an emergency arises, and they signal that they understand and accept responsibility for complying with the undergraduate regulations and Connecticut statutes.

These changes are designed to promote safety, but I expect they will also prompt campus-wide discussion, not just about alcohol and other drugs but also about the broader questions about health and safety they affect. To help them with that discussion, students will find abundant resources. In their own residential colleges, they will find their masters and deans. From our department of mental health and counseling, they will find around-the-clock support at our health center. And from the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center, they will find confidential information and counseling about sexual misconduct. First-year students, to whom all these resources are open, will have the additional support of a freshman counselor, who can guide them whenever they need information or help. To help you reach any of these resources yourself, I am listing contact information for all of them at the bottom of this letter.

You can help in this effort to keep your daughter or son safe by continuing this discussion at home. Conversations like this are never easy, but they are extremely effective. Please talk with your daughter or son about alcohol and other drugs, especially in the context of sexual intimacy. Students benefit from your candor. And as difficult as it is to have these conversations, we have made them a priority of student life on campus, and I hope that you will do so at home, as well.

I'm eager to see the year launched, but before we say our goodbyes to summer, just how did those Yale Olympians fare?  Rower Taylor Ritzel '10 and the United States eight held off the Canadian eight with Ashley Brzozowicz ’04 to win gold; the Canadian boat secured silver. We are proud of all of them, and of the ambition and creativity they embody, and proud that they acknowledge their alma mater in their success.  

Yours truly,

Mary Miller
Dean of Yale College
Sterling Professor of History of Art