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Committee to tackle alcohol policy

By Brian Rosenberg

Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey has directed an Undergraduate Association committee to examine alcohol use and related issues on campus. In a telephone interview, Tewhey said he would "put a great deal of weight" on the committee's recommendations when drafting revisions to MIT's alcohol policy.

In a letter to UA President Manish L. Bapna '91, Tewhey said he wanted the newly formed UA Standing Committee on Student Life to "forward recommendations to me for any changes [to the alcohol policy] that it might deem appropriate."

J. Paul Kirby '92, chairman of the CSL, expressed confidence that the committee would produce definite results. He said that "it was understood" that the CSL's recommendations would be implemented.

Kirby said the CSL will "respond to the entire alcohol issue, not merely the current policy." It will look for possible connections between alcohol consumption and harassment, criminal activity, and future alcoholism, he added.

To aid in its examination of alcohol, the committee will use a large number of sources. "Experts such as Medical Department personnel will advise the committee," Kirby said. The CSL will also examine alcohol reports from other schools and conduct random polling of MIT students.

Additionally, the CSL will study the issue of house taxes, which are charges added by a dormitory to a student's housing bill. The funds are generally used to support social activities within the dormitory, including parties where alcohol is served.

"Some non-drinkers feel they shouldn't have to pay a tax which is used to purchase alcohol," Kirby said. "There is also an issue of underage students paying such a tax when they can't legally be served alcohol," he added.

The CSL will be made up of between 10 and 12 graduate and undergraduate students and four or five faculty and administrators. Andrew M. Eisenmann, Susanna C. Hinds, and Neal H. Dorow, all from the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, will be on the committee, Kirby said.

The non-student appointments were the result of a suggestion from Tewhey. He also suggested that a housemaster and a graduate student be put on the committee.

The first meeting of the committee will be held on Monday. "Meetings will be open to the public," Kirby said.

According to Kirby, the CSL hopes to release a report by March. "If Tewhey accepts our recommendations, they could be policy by next fall," he said.

The CSL is one of several new standing committees proposed by the UA's Ad Hoc Committee on Restructuring in an effort to improve the UA's organizational efficiency.