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Guest Column/Shirley McBay

(Editor's note: The Tech recently sent a letter to members of the faculty and administration encouraging them to write guest columns for the newspaper. Dean McBay is the first to respond.)

I want to take advantage of an invitation to write occasional columns that was extended to faculty and staff by the editorial board of The Tech. I appreciate the opportunity to seek advice from and to provide information to students.

I am inviting comments on two proposals recently sent to me by the Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol, a group made up of faculty, staff, and students.

Students who wish to provide advice to me on these proposals may do so by sending their comments to 7-133 by Friday, Apr. 19 or by attending a meeting on Wednesday, Apr. 24 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm in the Mezzanine Lounge of the Student Center. A summary of any written comments received will be presented at the public meeting.

Dry Rush

The first proposal is for a dry rush during the initial days of R/O (Friday afternoon through Monday evening), beginning with R/O, 1985. Dry rush is defined as the absence of alcohol at events held in common areas during the period when freshmen are being recruited for the various dormitories, fraternities, and other independent living groups.

The primary motivation for this proposal is the new Massachusetts law raising the drinking age to 21 as of June 1, 1985 and the fact that most, if not all, freshmen will be under 21. In addition, the potential legal liability of the living groups and of the Institute as well as the possible loss of insurance coverage for alcohol-related incidents are of major concern.

It is suggested that the proposed "dry rush" could allow for important decisions such as housing to be made without the influence of alcohol, for savings of thousands of dollars, and for more creative programs and trips.

Guidlines for parties

The second proposal is for the adoption of clearer and more current guidelines for parties held on campus. Included are recommendations related to advertising, fund-raising events, obtaining approvals and licenses, closing times, and offering event planning seminars for certain types of parties.

In this proposal, guidelines are recommended for dormitory parties (not including private, floor, or entry events) and for general parties held elsewhere on campus (e.g., in the Student Center, Walker, Dupont, and the Athletic Center). The proposal is as follows:

O+ Advertising

Parties held anywhere on campus would not be advertised to the general public in any manner. They could be advertised on other college campuses but, in the case of general parties as defined above, prior approval of materials to be posted on other campuses would be required.

O+ Fund-raising Events

Events designed to generate income would have to be held in the Student Center, Walker, Dupont, or the Athletic Center. Campus police presence would be required at all such events for security reasons.

O+ Approvals and Licenses

Dean's Office and Campus Police approvals, liquor and entertainment licenses, and requests for Campus Police presence would have to be finalized four days prior to the event. No exceptions would be made.

For dormitory parties, Dean's Office approval is provided by Dean Peter Brown in 7-133. Approval for general parties must be obtained from Barbara Feinman, campus activities advisor, in W20-345.

O+ Closing Times

Dormitory parties and general parties as defined above would officially end at 1:00 am (i.e., no more music or alcohol). The Campus Police would allow an additional one-half hour for the crowd to disperse.

O+ Event Planning/Bartender Training Seminars

When alcohol is to be served, the Committee is recommending that students requesting approval for the event be required to have already successfully completed an event planning seminar and to provide a list of trained bartenders for the event.

An Event Planning Seminar is a three-hour workshop in which such topics as proper party procedures, potential risks and liability, publicity techniques, alcohol purchasing and serving, and alternatives to the serving of alcohol are discussed.

Certification, good for one year, would be given upon successful completion of this seminar which would be sponsored by the Campus Activities Office four times per year and open to anyone wishing to attend.

A Bartender Training Course is a six-hour (three session) program designed to train students to run a full bar for any party on campus. Other topics would include potential liabilities associated with the serving of alcohol, measuring and serving drinks, importance of uniform serving policies, and how to deal with intoxicated people.

Arrangements for offering this course would be made by the Campus Activites Office four times per year with certification for one year available upon succesful completion of the course.

Except for the seminars and training courses which would not be available before mid-August, 1985, the remaining recommendations for parties would become effective May 1, 1985. All recommendations for parties as well as for a dry rush would be in full effect beginning with R/O, 1985.


External groups such as the National InterFraternity Conference have passed resolutions on alcohol that include the promotion of a non-alcoholic rush. Other campuses are adopting stringent alcohol policies (including no alcohol at campus events) out of concern over the increasing consumption and abuse of alcoholic beverages on college campuses.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol at MIT has thus far chosen to make recommendations regarding certain types of events rather than to recommend an all encompassing policy. In either case, it is clear that we will need the support of everyone on campus if we are to keep restrictive policies at a minimum.