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State law forbids free liquor

By Craig Jungwirth

Recent Massachusetts legislation restricts liquor licensees from serving free drinks to any person or group of persons, according to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (Chapter 204, Section 4.00).

It is unclear whether the regulations would apply to MIT living groups that secure liquor licenses for parties.

"These regulations apply to all licenses issued," said John Douglas Cummings, counsel to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC).

The regulations on serving and consuming alcohol in Massachusetts took effect Dec. 10, 1984, Douglas said.

The regulations which could affect licensed events at MIT serving alcohol prohibit:

O+ offering or delivering any free drinks to any person or group of persons;

O+ selling an unlimited number of drinks for one price during any set period of time;

O+ encouraging or permitting any game or contest which involves drinking or the awarding of drinks for prizes.

The commission's restrictions also prohibit:

O+ delivering more than two drinks to one person at one time;

O+ delivering malt beverages or mixed drinks by the pitcher to two or more persons at any one time except for serving wine in bottles or carafes with meals to more than one person;

O+ changing prices of drinks at commercial establishments within one-week periods.

Procedures for MIT Events with Alcohol, a set of guidelines published by the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs (ODSA), specified that "a one day Massachusetts Liquor License [is] required ... for large open events (i.e., in excess of 100 students) ... as determined by the ODSA."

The City of Cambridge Liquor License Commission issued two liquor licenses to the MacGregor House Commission for Feb. 8 and 9.

MacGregor House served free drinks to students at a dormitory party that attracted over 100 people last weekend.

It appears that under the ABCC regulations, this practice is illegal for holders of Massachusetts Liquor Licenses.

But complete distribution of the regulations did not occur until after the party. Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay distributed copies of regulations Feb. 6 issued by the ABCC.

The ODSA alcohol guidelines also state that "Dean's Office notification/approval [is] necessary ... for dormitory events where alcohol is dispensed and/or consumed [during] entire House events or events of more than 100 residents [or] events open to [the] MIT community ..."

"There was thought that there might be some problems," said Mark Neumann '86, MacGregor social chairman. He and Michael A. Stracher '84, MacGregor secretary, met with Chief of Campus Police James Olivieri and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Peter H. Brown "to check on the possibility of problems," Neumann said.

Stracher said "we worked with the Campus Police and Dean's Office and everything came off well."

The party "was one of the most orderly" on campus, Olivieri said.

"It will be awhile before full distribution and understanding [of the new regulations] is arrived at," he said. Implementation of the regulations will "probably fold in on the basis of how many requests come through" the Campus Police, he added.

The Dean's Office circulated these regulations and the Reference Guide to Massachusetts Alcohol and Drug Laws, prepared by the Institute's attorneys.

The material's purpose is to continue "discussions regarding appropriate educational activities designed to insure the creation and/or maintenance of a climate in which responsible drinking habits are encouraged," according to the cover memorandum included with the information.