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John S. Hutchinson, Ph.D.

Dean of Undergraduates

February 24, 2011

Dear Rice Students,

We are facing a serious, even potentially life-threatening, problem on our campus and in
our community. Many of us – students, faculty, staff, and administrators – have expressed
strong concern over the risks to students created by alcohol abuse this year. This is a serious and
continuing problem and must be treated with utmost urgency by every member of our
community. The health and well being of every Rice student is our highest priority and, when
necessary, we must take aggressive measures to protect our students’ welfare. Specifically, the
abuse of hard alcohol has become a severe problem and demands a community-wide response.

My firm principal and long-standing practice is to engage the student community,


represented by your elected leadership, in addressing campus concerns and problems. This
engagement is vital to our educational mission and to finding effective solutions to problems. I
applaud the initiative of the Student Association in organizing the January forum and in forming
the task force to examine the issue of alcohol use on campus. This past week, the college
masters and I asked the college presidents and chief justices to discuss and present proposals for
curbing alcohol abuse. Once again, the student leadership responded with dedication and solid
ideas, which were presented to the college masters and me at two meetings this week.

The college leadership has come forward with some excellent community-based
programs for better on-campus alcohol education and more effective enforcement of the alcohol
policy. The college masters and I strongly support these efforts and believe that they hold great
promise for significant improvements in both individual behavior and the health of our
community. However, while I am confident that, in the long run, these educational and
enforcement solutions will help, they will take considerable time to develop, implement, and
become effective.

In the meantime, I am asking the campus to pause to reflect on how to improve the state
of our culture as student leaders work to implement their campus-wide programs. Therefore,
effective immediately and until further notice, I am placing the colleges on alcohol policy
probation. As part of this probation, the colleges have committed to present specific plans for
immediate action to protect the safety and welfare of every member of this community, plans
which must include effective and immediate curtailment of the alcohol abuse. The college
leadership is responsible for developing these plans and will communicate them to the members
of their respective communities immediately. In addition, the leadership has called college-wide
meetings at all colleges on Monday, March 7, at 10 p.m. Violation of the terms of this probation
will extend the probationary period and will place the alcohol policy itself at risk.

E-mail dean.hutchinson@rice.edu | Office 713-348-4996 | Fax 713-348-5322 | Rice University Office of the Dean of Undergraduates - MS6 |
6100 Main Street | Houston, TX 77005-1892 | www.rice.edu
The provision of hard alcohol to a minor is dangerous, violates Rice’s alcohol policy and
is a criminal offense under Texas law. The entire Rice community - including college
governments, college courts, college masters, RAs, HRFs, RUPD, the Dean's office, Student
Judicial Programs and all members of every college - must step up enforcement in this area. The
dangers of hard alcohol must be understood and respected by anyone choosing to consume it.
The provision of hard alcohol to a minor, whether by another minor or by an of-age student, will
be dealt with harshly and will jeopardize your status as a member of this community.

My message to you is one of expectations. We expect that our Rice community will set
high standards for itself and abide by those standards, specifically in regards to alcohol use. The
larger community expects no less. We expect every student to give their active support and
cooperation to the colleges’ efforts to address our current alcohol issues.

In closing, I want to emphasize that this is just the beginning of the conversation about
alcohol use and abuse on campus. This conversation must be ongoing, and must include all
stakeholders. This is a community problem and requires a community-wide solution. Each of us
has a role and responsibility in meeting Rice’s standards, obeying the law and looking out for
each other. I am confident that, as a community, we are up to the challenge.

Best wishes,

John S. Hutchinson
Dean of Undergraduates

JSH/lpc

E-mail dean.hutchinson@rice.edu | Office 713-348-4996 | Fax 713-348-5322 | Rice University Office of the Dean of Undergraduates - MS6 |
6100 Main Street | Houston, TX 77005-1892 | www.rice.edu