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Freshman housing debate continues

"Should all freshmen be housed on campus?" will be the topic of a November 5 evening forum for faculty and students on alcohol and housing issues, sponsored by Professor Lotte Bailyn, chair of the faculty, and Professor Rosalind Williams, dean of students and undergraduate education.

The session, to be held from 7-9pm in Rm 34-101, reflects the question posed at the October faculty meeting. The issues of alcohol and housing are also expected to come up at the town meeting in Kresge Auditorium from noon-2pm on Friday, Oct. 31.

Four faculty-student committees, which will assess the short-term and long-term issues on alcohol and housing, are in the process of forming and are expected to be announced later this week.

At the first campus-wide discussion held October 21 following the September 30 death of freshman Scott Krueger, students voiced strong disagreement with the proposal made by Professor Stephan Chorover at the October 15 faculty meeting.

Dean Williams opened the two-hour student meeting a week ago Tuesday by saying, "Alcohol is the core issue, the immediate cause of Scott's death." She said whatever steps taken at MIT must be "actions that are sustainable and reasonable." Interfraternity Council President Iddo Gilon said that the IFC suspension of alcohol at events is in effect "until further notice."

Medical Director Dr. Arnold Weinberg, discussing the extensive alcohol education programs of the Medical Department, said that despite best efforts, "it is obvious we haven't reached everybody." He said Tracy Desovich, the Medical Department's health educator for students, is developing material that will be distributed campus-wide.

Housing dominated the discussion, with students vigorously applauding two-thirds of the way through the sessions when Dean Williams told a questioner that the idea of an all-freshman dorm was "pretty nearly impossible. There is an extremely, extremely low probability of that��������������������������� The general tone is people want to make it [the housing system] better, but no one is calling for drastic change."

Echoing a freshman's point, she added that better information was needed so freshmen can make a more informed choice on housing.

Dean Williams said the short-term housing group examining the situation for next fall would need to assess those options so a decision could be made within a few weeks.

The committee's assessment would then be weighed by Dean Williams, President Vest, Provost Joel Moses and Senior Vice President William R. Dickson, who would make the decision as to what steps would be taken for next fall.

"Whatever happens in the fall of 1998 is experimental," Dean Williams said, noting that it would not necessarily be the permanent arrangement.

On the longer-term housing issue, she said, "Before we can design a building, we have to know what is the program." The Task Force on Student Life will be expanding regarding its mission for a stronger MIT community, she added.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 1997.

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