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Keg ban does not include big parties

By Prabhat Mehta

MIT's ban on kegs from all living groups does not include parties which have one-day Massachusetts liquor licenses, said Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey in a recent interview.

Currently, all non-private events with alcohol must be licensed, so the keg ban would not apply to large parties, according to Tewhey, who is head of residence and campus activities. "As it stands right now, you can have a keg at a party," he said.

The Campus Activities Office's "Party Request Form" states that "an event is not a private party if it is open to the MIT community or the community at large, if admission is charged, if it is advertised on campus or to the general public, or if it is in a major lounge, dining hall, or public area (unless entrances are carefully monitored to limit admission to members of the private party)."

Though students have been confused over the ramifications of the keg ban -- many interviewed have been led to believe that the ban was absolute -- Tewhey said he had discussed the issue with dormitory officers last semester and over the summer. In addition, he said he would be mailing information to student leaders over the next several weeks.

Much of the confusion seems to have come from a factual error in this year's edition of the Basic Regulations of the Institute Houses. Under the alcohol section, it states that the city of Cambridge, along with Boston, has passed ordinances which "effectively prohibit kegs" from college residences.

In reality, Cambridge has passed no keg ban, though Boston prohibited the delivery of kegs to dormitories and fraternities last year.

City considered keg ban

A keg ban had been considered by the Cambridge License Commission, the agency which regulates dormitories and fraternities in the city, earlier this year, after Campus Police lieutenant Edward D. McNulty approached the city for help in enforcing alcohol laws on campus, according to Richard V. Scali, executive officer of the CLC.

MIT was in favor of a city keg ban at that time, he said, to curb on-campus drinking by minors and reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents. Last January, Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin suggested the CLC adopt the same keg ban the Boston Licensing Board had imposed several months earlier, according to a memorandum written by her dated April 12.

However, in April, a representative from Harvard University objected to the citywide keg ban, claiming "they could not enforce it and felt it would constitute an invasion of privacy for the students," the memo stated.

Glavin reaffirmed MIT's support for the Boston-style keg ban, but "rather than get into a fight with Harvard on the issue, I said MIT would accept" a previous proposal, which required Cambridge liquor stores to keep a written record of the name and address of every person to whom a delivery of alcohol is made, the memo stated.

That proposal was adopted by the CLC as a compromise, and is now in effect for the city, noted CLC Chairman James C. McDavitt.

Neither Glavin nor McNulty could be reached for comment yesterday.

Not clear where MIT stood

Despite the apparent clarity of Glavin's memo, it is unclear whether there was widespread support for a citywide keg ban within the MIT administration. Tewhey said he felt it was better for MIT to handle the keg ban internally. "I am much more comfortable with the keg ban not having the force of law," he said.

In addition, his account of the CLC hearings seemed to contradict Glavin's memo. MIT was in favor of keeping Cambridge out of on-campus alcohol problems, he said, and the city agreed not to impose a keg ban on the condition that Harvard and MIT would do it themselves.

McDavitt and Scali also said that the commission had agreed not to eliminate kegs on the condition that the two universities would impose stricter rules on drinking. McDavitt, however, said he did not expect the schools to necessarily pass keg bans.

Harvard has been in the process of revising its alcohol policy this year as well. Although they have decided to ban liquor at parties held in freshman dormitories, Harvard officials decided on Wednesday not to ban kegs from upperclass houses, according to a report in yesterday's Harvard Crimson.

Harvard's actions have come in response to local pressures as well as the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act of 1989, which links federal aid to colleges' enforcement of federal and state drug and alcohol laws.

Tewhey said he just received notification of the new federal law this week and is still in the process of reviewing its potential effect on alcohol rules at MIT. The law takes effect Oct. 1.