Binge drinking at MIT is about half the national rate (23% MIT, 43% national) and a high proportion of MIT students either have never drunk or haven't had a drink in the past year (30% at MIT compared to 19% nationally). These facts, together with the serious study habits of MIT students, prompted many people and news reporters to comment last year, "If it (a death from alcohol poisoning) can happen at MIT, it can happen anywhere." MIT administrators, faculty and students have taken many steps 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. This is a brief summary.
Freshmen on Campus in 2001 -- President Vest announced Aug. 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 a number of faculty reports over the years as a way to provide a more comprehensive, academic introduction to MIT. It was advocated in the Report on Dangerous Drinking this Spring and also in the forthcoming Report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning.
Guaranteed Housing on Campus -- All freshmen for years have been guaranteed dormitory housing if they wish, both at the start of the first semester or anytime later in the year.
Resident Advisors: All fraternities, sororities and independent living groups (FSILGs) now have graduate students as resident advisors. Many FSILGs also will have faculty advisors.
Alcohol Ban: A ban on alcohol at parties was in place for more than seven months last year and was again put into effect by the MIT Interfraternity Council (IFC) for Orientation Week through September 12 (later for FSILGs who haven't been re-certified). The IFC in September is resuming its re-certification program in which all fraternities, sororities and independent living groups who wish to serve alcohol must complete educational pro-grams 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.
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 Education in the Medical Department. Two Medical Department Resource Centers are available on the east and west sides of campus, at the Medical Center and the Student Center.
Orientation Week (August 26-September 6) was completely reorganized and incorporated a number of educational programs on alcohol and individual and community responsibility. National alcohol experts Jim Matthews of Keane State College in New Hampshire and Dr. Richard Keeling of the University of Wisconsin conducted sessions for freshmen and administrators during Orientation Week, which also featured Northeastern University's nationally recognized workshop, "Mentors in Violence Prevention." The Interfraternity Council sponsored 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.
Fraternities Disciplined: The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, where freshman Scott Krueger lapsed into an alcohol-induced coma, is closed and has been de-recognized. 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.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Community Liquor Stores -- MIT contributed $1,000 toward establishing the Cambridge Police "Cops in Shops" program to combat the sale of alcohol to minors.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½An additional $200,000 -- a total of $300,000 -- has been allocated for special student events on campus that will not feature alcohol. A Fall Festival is planned for Oct. 19-24, featuring a dance, international fair, community service projects and a concert.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Alcohol and other counseling is available through the Dean's Office, the Mental Health Service of the Medical Department and from Chaplains. Additional support is offered through MedLINKS and from peers in the Nightline telephone counseling program.