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Dormcon represents students in dorms

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to Dean for Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith.)

The recent discussion regarding alcohol policy has raised a number of substantial issues that directly impact not only the dormitory system as a whole but each of the individual dormitories.

In consequence, there are also many questions about the role of Institute-wide student government such as the Undergraduate Association. As the body that represents the dormitories and the dormitory system as a whole, we on the Dormitory Council (Dormcon) wish to address these concerns.

It is Dormcon, not the UA, that is the instrument of government that represents dormitories and their residents. Furthermore, it is the dormitories themselves that are the smallest units within that context.

Within that unit exists the most fundamental system of government found on this or any other campus: the house government. It is this body that has a direct impact on student life; it is within the dormitory where a person resides, and it is the workings of that living group that have the most influence over the quality of student life.

The true representative of the students living in each dormitory is therefore each house government; only the house government is capable of determining the most appropriate dormitory policy, as only it can make decisions that are truly based on the consensus of the residents.

It is Dormcon that binds house governments together. Providing a forum necessary for the transmission of ideas across the boundaries within the Institute, Dormcon speaks for the entity that is comprised of these governments.

It is thus the opinion of the Dormitory Council that the individual houses are the only proper respondents to the question of individual dormitory policy. We recommend that any decision regarding restrictions on the use of house tax money be left up to the residents of each dormitory as represented by its house government.

In the context of alcohol policy, more attention should be paid to the individual houses. A clear focus is education; Dormcon and the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs have for many years co-sponsored TIPS-training sessions, which instruct dormitory residents on various techniques dealing with how to handle the consumption of alcohol and related problems.

Perhaps, as passing a swim test is a requirement for graduation, it is time for MIT to require TIPS-training or even a comprehensive drug and alcohol education and prevention program for all of its undergraduates.

But the development and eventual implementation of any such program must begin somewhere. It is the dormitories that provide an appropriate setting; however, in most discussions concerning alcohol policy the word "dormitory" is thrown around with no regard to the essence of its meaning: the residents. Consequently, any concerns must be addressed in the context of the most basic level of student life: the place of residence.

If the Institute desires to make an alcohol policy that incorporates student opinion and is amenable to the students, then it must do so through the individual house governments and Dormcon.

Seth M. Cohen '92->

Next House President->

Representing the House Presidents->

and the Dormitory Council->