Dear Yale College Students:
Before you head off for the winter break, we want to write to you about two important initiatives that will be seeking your input next semester. These initiatives are related in focus, but they differ in terms of process and outcomes.
The first is the Yale College Dean’s Office Task Force on Alcohol and Other Drugs, chaired by Yale College Dean of Students Marichal Gentry. The 15 members of this task force, who are listed below, have already received their charge: to help Yale College make the undergraduate experience safer, and to protect that experience from the risks that alcohol and other drugs present. This group has already begun its work, focusing in three areas: (1) safety and education; (2) programming; and (3) communications. The work of the task force includes reviewing existing data and seeking student, faculty and staff feedback on attitudes and experiences on campus with respect to drug and alcohol use. The task force will recommend both short-term tactics and longer-term goals to address the risks – personal and cultural – associated with drugs and alcohol use, and develop a roadmap for Yale College that supports a safe and supportive environment. We hope to have the task force’s final report in hand by early February, and we plan to make the report available when it is completed.
A second initiative is the new University Council Committee on Alcohol in Yale College, which is being convened by President Levin in January. This committee will comprise Yale alumni and parents who currently serve on the University Council <http://www.yale.edu/about/council.html> , an advisory group to the President and senior administrators, as well as relevant experts on contemporary college life; it will be assisted by the Office of the Secretary and Vice President of Student Life. The committee will conduct its work during the course of the spring term, and will submit its report and recommendations to President Levin, Dean Miller and President-elect Salovey. We expect that this group will, at least in part, build on the findings of the YCDO task force, but the work of all University Council committees is intended to provide a broad overview and more strategic guidance to the University’s senior leadership. To give you a sense of the topics that other University Council committees have studied, a full list is available here <http://www.yale.edu/about/councilcommittees.html> .
Both of these initiatives focus on an area that we know is of growing concern to students, faculty and staff alike who are committed to ensuring a positive culture on campus. We feel strongly that the YCDO task force and the University Council committee, by conducting research and developing recommendations in a deliberate and purposeful way, may well offer new insights and new directions to ensure that the Yale College experience is one of optimism, not regret.
And both of these initiatives will need your help. The task force and the committee will be reaching out to undergraduates in a variety of ways, and we hope that we can count on the enthusiastic and thoughtful participation of those who have experiences to recount, observations to relate, or suggestions to make. As you finish up with exams and papers, please give some thought, if you’re so inclined, to how you might contribute to the work of either of these groups. We are eager to receive your feedback and ideas, and you may always contact either one of us, or any of the members of the YCDO task force listed below.
We wish you the best for the end of the term, and we wish you safe, enjoyable and restful travels wherever your winter break plans may take you.
Mary Miller, Dean of Yale College