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Letters from alumni about alcohol-free dorms

June 7, 2002

Rem Myers ’37 states that “the purpose of college is education [and there is] no reason why this should not include alcohol.” While alcohol may not be incompatible with education, its abuse does adversely affect the quality of the educational environment.

In the wake of an automobile accident in March 1987, I was assigned my freshman year to a first-floor dorm room in Blair Hall East with a nearby handicapped-accessible bathroom. I am fortunate to have made a strong recovery by the time I got to Princeton, because the facilities served me little.

Every night of each weekend, binge-drunken students returned to fill the sink and toilet with vomit, to block them up, to cause them to overflow, or quite often to simply destroy them. I have no idea what Princeton spent to replace the porcelain and mirrors in that one bathroom alone, but I know it was hardly the only one.

As a nondrinking student, I failed to see why my education or the education of any student had to be compromised to fit the habits of the bingers. I applaud Brian Muegge ’05’s proposal for alcohol-free housing, and only regret that it comes 15 years too late for me to take advantage of.

R. Craig Harman '91
Vienna, Va.

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April 26, 2002

I was pleased to read the article in the April 10 PAW describing Brian Muegge's proposal for alcohol-free housing. In my experience at Princeton the majority of my friends and acquaintances did not participate in the binge drinking culture that seemed to dominate the lives of a significant and often destructive minority of my peers. I quite purposely made housing arrangements that minimized my contact with the effects of such over-indulgance, and would have appreciated university housing policy supporting those efforts. One of the few things of which I am ashamed from my time at Princeton is the number of stories I heard about friends and cleaning staff being forced to deal with the aftermath of alcoholic intake. I question the character of someone who would leave a drink container full of urine outside of his or her door for someone else to dispose of and I do not accept that being intoxicated is any excuse. My hope would be that the university community will be pleasantly surprised by the level of interest that students express in living in substance-free housing. I find it simply mind-boggling that bright, blessed people such as those fortunate and hard-working enough to be students at Princeton can tolerate and in fact encourage the kind of disrespect for their fellow human beings that the "secondary binge effects" described in the article represent. I applaud Mr. Muegge and hope that he is successful in his quest.

Erin Christensen ’97
Berkeley, Calif.

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April 11, 2002

Perhaps this old (86) geezer may make a comment doubt the proposal (PAW April 10) for alcohol-free dormitories?

The purpose of college is education. No reason why this should not include alcohol. One can experience drinking, or not, as one prefers, but I do not think Big Brother should be telling us what we must do. Not make the others in the dormitory drink — or abstain, either. Teach yourself!

And think about this one. In 1940 there was a great movie, telling of an actual event during World War II, when on a remote island in the outer Hebrides they ran completely out of liquor. Perhaps you know the film, called Tight Little Island in the U.S., and Whisky Galore in England.

Toward the end of the film, there is (thank goodness a cocktail party, where one of the guests is a local physician. And he is beard to say, 'It is a well-known medical fact that some people are born two drinks below par."

I rest my case.

Rem V. Myers ’37
Southbury, Conn.

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