The President's Council of the Interfraternity Council has voted to restrict the service of alcohol to guests at fraternity, sorority, and independent living group (FSILG) social functions, starting next semester. Until then, the ban on alcohol at all FSILG events remains in effect.
In addition, the presidents approved a strict enforcement policy last Wednesday that bars alcohol from social events for 120 days for the first violation, requires a house to be substance-free for 120 days for a second violation, and costs house members their rush if a third violation should occur while that house is still on probation from a second infraction.
"The consequences are very stern, very black-and-white," said IFC President Iddo Gilon. "We didn't have that before."
The policy requires alumni/ae supervision at parties with small guest-to-member ratios and at least two monitors, probably graduate students, at larger parties with a higher guest-to-member ratio.
The severe sanctions and clear-cut monitoring requirements represent "an attempt to preserve the system," said Mr. Gilon. "If we can't be responsible, we'll be shooting ourselves in the foot."
While some students think these measures are extreme, Mr. Gilon noted the strong sentiment expressed for substance-free environments. "We can't have prohibition," he said. "It won't work." Mr. Gilon, a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, said he hoped these measures could become a standard for university-wide policy.
The President's Council -- the legislative body for fraternities, sororities and independent living groups -- is composed of the presidents of the 39 FSILGs at MIT.
Earlier Wednesday, President Charles Vest named four students and five faculty members to join co-chairs Professor Phillip Sharp and Dr. Mark Goldstein on the Working Group on the Prevention of Binge Drinking.
President Vest charged the group with surveying existing literature, programs and materials; consulting with experts; learning the physiology and psychology of campus binge drinkers; and recommending steps to prevent it. He said he expected their work to be completed by May.
"The Working Group will serve an important role as we begin to learn about the problem of binge drinking and seek ways to educate the community about its dangers," President Vest said in a letter to Professor Sharp. "While I expect that the focus will be on the context and needs of the MIT community, I hope that your work will serve the needs of other campuses."
President Vest said he expected the Working Group to meet on a weekly or biweekly basis and asked them to invite experts to campus to meet with them and speak with others on campus, arranging public events and lectures if they think it appropriate.
Faculty named to the working group are Professors Suzanne Corkin of brain and cognitive sciences, Edward Farhi of physics, Alan Oppenheim of electrical engineering and computer science, Kenneth Oye of political science and John Essigmann of toxicology and chemistry, housemaster at New House.
Students on the Working Group are Pascal Chesnais, a graduate student at the Media Laboratory; Ritu Gupta, a junior in biology; Juan Rodriguez, a senior in biology and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon; and Susan Rushing, a junior in brain and cognitive sciences and a member of Alpha Phi.
Professor Sharp, head of the Department of Biology, and Dr. Goldstein, the Medical Department's chief of pediatric and student health services, had already been named.
The IFC President's Council vote was 21 in favor and nine against, with eight abstentions. Under the new policy, alcohol will be available only through an outside vendor or at functions designated as BYOB (a person must be over 21 to bring their own alcohol).
The policy, recommended in a report by the IFC Committee on Social Responsibility, Liability and Risk Management, also calls for:
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Events organized for new members to be alcohol-free.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ All FSILGs to have a risk management and safety officer who works with the IFC risk management officer to create and enforce a risk management policy for the living group.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ A ban on tap systems and kegs for IFC members with MIT-approved housing status.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ A prohibition against purchasing alcoholic beverages through a living group's treasury.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ A ban on members coordinating or undertaking the purchase of alcohol for members or guests in the name of or on behalf of the chapter.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 19, 1997.