Tewhey tells UAC about alcohol rules
By Reuven M. Lerner
The Undergraduate Association Council discussed possible changes in the campus alcohol policy and MIT insurance programs at its meeting on Oct. 18.
Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey told the group that the city of Cambridge "has put
back on their council agenda the issue of banning kegs as a city ordinance."
The city had considered a similar measure last spring, but decided in the end to let universities regulate alcohol use on their own campuses, he said. "It is conceivable that they are going to pass what they didn't pass last spring," he added. Tewhey said that MIT would probably not oppose the ban if it were passed.
When asked if such a ban would include public parties, Tewhey said that it would be "all-encompassing -- it will mean that kegs will not be able to be delivered to dormitories, regardless of whether you have a licensed party or not."
Tewhey noted his disappointment with students for not being more opposed to alcohol abuse. "Drinking is not an individual act. . . . Getting drunk leads to actions that affect people other than that individual."
He cited a soon-to-be-released study done by the MIT Medical Department, in which 1000 randomly-selected undergraduates were asked questions relating to alcohol. Over 22 percent of the respondents "said that they had been on the receiving end of an unwelcomed sexual proposition by somebody who was inebriated," he said.
"I have no desire at all to end underage drinking on this campus. . . . I do, though, have the desire to have people respond responsibly to the issue of alcohol. And I don't think we do this
at all on this campus," Tewhey added.
The discussion of alcohol policy was followed by two speeches on the subject of a medical insurance rebate for students who oppose abortion. Students from MIT Pro-Life had asked that the Medical Department refund the portion of their Student Health Insurance plan which is used for abortion counseling. The Medical Department refused their request, saying that they feared this would create a precedent for other special-interest groups.
In response, members of Pro-Life asked that the UA sponsor a binding referendum that would poll students on this issue.
Michelle L. Bush '91, representing the Association for Women Students, opposed the proposal. "We feel that getting abortion insurance refunds would be inappropriate policy, and an inappropriate question for a UA referendum."
"It's kind of like a gamble," she said. "You give this money to this funding pool, and you hope you won't need to use it. But it's there in case you, or anyone else, has to draw on that funding later on for something that you happen to need."
She contrasted this with a "fee-for-service" system, in which the participants pay only for those elements that they think they will need.
Bush warned that "if a referendum is to be held, it cannot be specific to abortion, but must ask whether students should get a refund for anything that they are morally opposed to. Once you grant that, you have to consider the ramifications."
The Pro-Life representative, Margaret F. Keady '93, disagreed. "We're not asking for this refund on the grounds that our members will never use this service. We object to the notion of anyone aborting their unborn child, and don't want to support it in any way," she said.
Keady added, "There are probably plenty of other procedures covered by MIT insurance that I could personally find objectionable, in some way or another. However, I seriously doubt that I could find any other procedure that raises the question of direct killing."
"This is, after all, a pluralistic society, and people have a right to do what they will, provided they don't hurt anyone else in the process. But therein lies the problem -- in the eyes of many people, abortion does hurt someone else in the process. I don't think you can name any other medical procedure that raises this same ethical dilemma."
She concluded by saying that "this policy has been successfully instituted at other schools, and their medical care systems are still running."
The council also elected four new members to the UA Executive Committee. They are: Andrew E. Bloch '91, Denise A. Purdie '92, Jun Lee '94 and Rowhit Sakhuja '94.
The UAC also quickly discussed a resolution that the faculty had passed the day before, dealing with the issue of gay men and lesbians serving in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. However, the council did not have time to discuss or act on the measure.
The first hour of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting was spent asking each of the 60 UAC members to describe his or her greatest "pet peeve" at MIT. Answers included the emphasis of research over teaching, changes in the academic calendar, problems with dining services, and the difficulty of finding bathrooms.