Dry rush is possibleBy Craig Jungwirth
The Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol proposed a dry rush for the Friday through Monday of MIT's Residence/Orientation (R/O) Week. It is a "reasonable policy," said Robert A. Sherwood, associate dean for student affairs.
He felt that all social programs during the initial days of R/O Week are directed at freshmen. Most freshmen are younger than 21 years of age, the minimum legal drinking age in Massachusetts.
Rush differs from "private" parties occurring after rush, because rush is considered a formal part of MIT's orientation, Sherwood said.
Laws dictate that the last person who served someone is responsible.
"I cannot make a comment concerning dry rush," said InterFraternity Conference (IFC) Chairman Tinley Anderson '86, "because the IFC has not made a formal policy."
The Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol's "proposal is nothing more than that: a proposal," he said. The IFC regards the proposal as a guideline, not necessarily a policy.
The IFC is "in agreement that certain precautions concerning alcohol must be taken and that these precautions need to be defined," Anderson added. The precautions would include measures "to help curb the visibility of alcohol to the public and law enforcement agencies."
"Essentially, there will be no parties [during a dry rush] as we know them during the term," said Stephanie Scheidler '85, a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol.
Several reasons prompt proposal
Sherwood identified several reasons for the dry rush proposal. "There was a sense of immediacy for rush," he said, but it was "... not a real serious, crisis problem."
"We've been breaking the law for 20 years," he said. "What's new are the external factors: the 21 year old drinking age, Governor Dukakis' campaign against drunk drivers and criminal and civil liabilities reflecting on individual students, houses, fraternities and MIT."
All national fraternities and the National Interfraternity Conference have passed a dry rush resolution, he stated.
Anderson said a "more ... very alcohol-aware, conservative society ... [was] a major factor behind the committee's discussion [of a dry rush]."
MIT's Alumni IFC Steering Committee unanimously supported the concept of a dry rush at their last meeting, Sherwood said.
Liability for injuries which result from alcohol served at parties at fraternity houses may fall to fraternity alumni corporations, he explained. The corporations, which own the fraternity houses, "have a major interest" in rush policies.
The March 1985 issue of The Fraternity Newsletter listed 101 campuses that recently enacted dry rushes. "Other chapters have dry rush -- MIT is one of the last vestiges of wet rush," Sherwood said. Compactness of rush is an objection of MIT fraternities."
Enforcement of policies
Enforcement of the proposed dry rush is "totally dependent upon ... the IFC, the DormCon and, to some extent, the R/O Committee," Sherwood said. He assumed that freshmen would not want to risk disciplinary action in their first three days on campus by violating rush rules on alcohol.
MIT is "going to have to turn a blind eye" to underage drinking during rush, Scheidler said. "The only way [persons or organizations serving alcohol] can protect themselves is to not serve [alcohol] to underage [students]."
"Having successfully drunk freshmen during rush week does not facilitate choosing a living group," Sherwood added. R/O Week already has "an artificial atmosphere...."
Even so, "I would much rather see an 18 year old drinking age than 21," he said, "because the 21 year old drinking age splits the student body."
"Given the situation that there was a dry rush, I don't believe that the effects" could be projected, Anderson said. "We will have to wait until after rush" to assess the effects of the proposed dry rush.