Students criticize UD’s recent anti-drinking letter
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 01:04
In an attempt to discourage over-consumption of alcohol, university officials mailed a letter to students’ parents and legal guardians last week, warning them of end-of-semester celebrations and high-risk behavior.
The letter, dated April 11, stated that students’ alcohol use, especially at off-campus residences and nightclubs, increases as temperatures rise. University officials urged parents to speak with their children about the dangers of binge drinking and encouraged students to make smart choices.
“With the 2011-2012 academic year quickly winding down, we ask you to join with us in encouraging your child to make good decisions with regard to his or her health, safety and success,” the letter said.
Michael Gilbert, vice president of Student Life, stated in an email message that school officials frequently convey this message to students and parents at New Student Orientation, in the dean of students’ annual welcome letter and through the Office of Student Conduct.
He drafted the letter along with Dawn Thompson, associate vice president of Student Life and dean of students, and Albert “Skip” Homiak, executive director of the Office of Public Safety.
“Our intention was to remind parents that students occasionally misuse alcohol, particularly at off-campus parties, and to ask them to partner with the university to ensure the health and safety [of] all our students,” Gilbert said.
Homiak stated in an email message that the letter sent to parents was just another method of prevention.
“We think it’s important to enjoy all aspects of the UD experience, including the social scene, but occasionally poor personal choices involving alcohol usage results in situations that may have serious consequences,” Homiak said.
The letter received additional attention when it was featured last week on the college section of Barstool Sports, a Boston-based sports blog, which criticized the letter for being sent to parents. Many students learned about the letter from links to the blog post on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Senior Jackie Shafer, who first saw the letter after it was posted on Facebook, thought it was unnecessary and looked silly. She was upset university officials sent the letter to each student’s parents, especially because she is 22 years old and legally allowed to drink alcohol.
“It’s more extreme when you are legal age and your parents are getting this letter,” Shafer said.
She thinks the letter will encourage some students to consume alcohol with greater frequency in rebellion.
“If you tell someone not to think about something they’ll think about it more,” Shafer said. “If you tell someone not to do something, it just makes them want to do that thing.”
Freshman Jessica Colton said her parents did not call her to talk about alcohol misuse after receiving the letter. She didn’t become aware of the letter until her younger brother posted a link to the blog post on her Facebook page.
“I was very confused—yet not surprised at all,” Colton said.
She thinks the letter was a valuable strategy and commends school officials for showing concern.
“It’s always a good reminder that college cares about your kids,” Colton said. “For me, as long as the parent doesn’t freak out, we’re good.”
Senior Tim O’Connell said he thought it was important for parents to realize that activities like day drinking can be particularly dangerous, especially for students who cannot purchase alcohol at bars.
He has frequently witnessed over-consumption of alcohol during bus trips to off-campus locations, such as the Barstool Blackout Tour event at Pulse, a club in Elkton, Md.
“The times when I’ve seen drinking be most out of hand is on bus trips,” O’Connell said.
However, he said he thinks the letter was an ineffective method of controlling excessive drinking
“I don’t think it will have too much of an impact, but it’s a sign of things to come,” O’Connell said.
Freshman Kim Savarino said she was not aware a letter was mailed to her parents, who did not call her to talk about it. She thinks warm weather is a significant factor in increased drinking on campus, but thinks the letter won’t help to combat the problem.
“Even if your parents say not to drink, that doesn’t mean kids will listen,” Savarino said. “I don’t think our parents have any control over us anymore.”