Institute takes many steps in past year to curb alcohol abuse


Following is a brief outline of the many steps MIT administrators, faculty and students have taken in the past 11 months to strengthen MIT's programs that seek to curb the abuse of alcohol, which led to the death of freshman Scott Krueger last September 29.

HOUSING

Freshmen on campus in 2001 -- President Vest announced August 25 that all freshmen will be housed in campus residence halls starting in the fall of 2001, when the new 350-bed undergraduate dorm will be ready. The cost is estimated at more than $25 million. The move was advocated in the Potter Report of 1989 as a way to provide a more comprehensive, academic introduction to MIT. It was advocated in the Report on Dangerous Drinking last spring and also in the report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning (to be issued to the community this week).

Guaranteed housing on campus -- All freshmen for years have been guaranteed dormitory housing if they wish, in September or anytime later in the year. MIT is ready to accommodate more freshmen on campus if needed this year.

SUPERVISION

Resident advisors -- All fraternities, sororities and independent living groups (FSILGs) now will have graduate students as resident advisors. Many also will have faculty advisors. MIT will pay the FSILGS for the advisors' room and board charges, totaling about $180,000.

Alcohol ban reimposed -- A ban on alcohol at parties was in place for more than seven months last year and has been reimposed by the MIT Interfraternity Council (IFC) beginning August 21 through orientation and at least through September 12. That's when the IFC will start its recertification program in which all FSILGs that wish to serve alcohol must complete educational programs on the physiology of alcohol use, safe use of alcohol, emergency medical response and CPR, and liability and risk management practices.

Alcohol educator -- An acting special assistant to the president and chancellor for alcohol education will be appointed shortly while a search committee headed by Associate Provost Phillip Clay interviews candidates to fill this new senior position, created at the suggestion of MIT's Working Group on Dangerous Drinking last spring.

Event registration procedures have been clarified and strengthened to ensure that guidelines are understood and observed.

Revised IFC policies prohibit the use of organization funds to purchase alcohol and require events for new members to be alcohol free.

EDUCATION

Safety and prevention training, and educational programs on the issues of alcohol use and abuse and dangerous drinking have been strengthened and incorporated as core components of MIT's ongoing educational processes. Training programs are offered through Health Edu-cation in the Medical Department. There are two Medical Department resource centers on the east and west sides of campus, at the Medical Center and the Student Center.

Orientation Week (August 26-September 6) has been completely reorganized and is incorporating a number of educational programs on alcohol and individual and community responsibility. National alcohol experts Jim Matthews of Keene State College in New Hampshire and Dr. Richard Keeling of the University of Wisconsin are conducting sessions for freshmen and administrators during Orientation Week, which also has featured Northeastern University's nationally recognized workshop, "Mentors in Violence Prevention." The IFC is sponsoring a series of discussions with experts and training sessions as part of its new party registration and risk management policies.

Letters to parents -- The parents of the incoming class received two letters and educational materials to encourage parent/student discussions on alcohol and drugs.

Community campaign -- MIT has joined the Boston Coalition (the city of Boston, MIT and 12 other Boston-area universities) which will mount a campaign urging students to "Party Smart" and use alcohol responsibly. The campaign will be in college newspapers and billboards.

ENFORCEMENT

Fraternities disciplined -- The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, where freshman Scott Krueger lapsed into an alcohol-induced coma, remains suspended pending the outcome of a Suffolk County grand jury investigation. It will not house the fraternity members during the 1998-99 academic year, except for three authorized by the Boston Licensing Board to stay there as caretakers of the building. Other fraternities and individuals have been punished or fined for alcohol violations.

Sanctions -- MIT has established a system of progressive sanctions on alcohol violations, ranging from a conversation with a dean for a minor first infraction to fines of up to $1,500 and expulsion in aggravated cases. The Campus Police will issue citations when officers observe alcohol violations.

Community liquor stores -- MIT contributed $1,500 toward establishing the Cambridge Police "Cops in Shops" program to combat the sale of alcohol to minors.

SOCIAL LIFE

An additional $200,000 -- a total of $300,000 -- has been allocated for special student events on campus that will not feature alcohol.

COUNSELING

Counseling and support on alcohol and other issues are available from the Dean's Office, the Mental Health Service at MIT Medical, chaplains, MedLINKs and Nightline.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 2, 1998.


Topics: Administration, Students

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