Yale University has decided to create a new position in the dean’s office – the director of alcohol and substance abuse initiatives, which the university hopes to fill by the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. The director will centralize the university’s drug and alcohol education efforts.
Many students have been weary of the news, envisioning the director as a tyrant out to take legal action against every kegger on campus, but school officials assure the public that the director’s job will be to educate.
“I view this person as a real partner to students and organizations. Not as someone who’s going to come in, lay down the law and tell people what they can and can’t do,” Assistant Athletic Director Amy Backus said, who is part of the search committee for the director, in an interview with Yale Daily News.
The university first cemented the director’s duties from recommendations by the Yale Committee on Alcohol Policy’s 2006 report, but the dean’s office is still shaping the new post’s role. So far, Yale has been in agreement that the director will pioneer the school’s new programming that offers alcohol-free social events on campus and educate students about common alcohol and drug misconceptions.
“It’s hard to say exactly what those programs will be,” Will Corbin, a Yale psychology professor and member of the search committee, said in a Sept. 9 Daily News story. “A lot depends on who fills the position.”
The university began the search for a director in April, hoping to fill the position two weeks ago when the fall semester began. The large number of applicants and still-undetermined job description slowed the process.
Some students, like sophomore Shaun Farrel welcome the addition of another educator to the campus.
“I remember during freshman orientation they basically said, ‘This is a shot…. there’s a lot of people who have never had a drink before.”
To ease students’ anxiety, the administration says it is reviewing each application to make sure the new director will fit into the culture of the college. Yale encourages students to make their own decisions about substance use and provides resources for the prevention and treatment of abuse.
“Amnesty for students who are intoxicated is something everyone wants to see continue,” said Corbin.