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Editorial- Reject Alchohol plan

Reject alcohol plan

This Thursday, the Undergraduate Association will decide whether to adopt the recommendations of the Alcohol Policy Committee. If the UA truly represents the interests of students, it will reject the committee's recommendations.

The recommendations are nothing more than an attempt by a small group of students and administrators to usurp decision-making power from dormitory residents, effectively eliminate the public use of alcohol on campus, and fund more disciplinarians to pry into student life. The proposal, which came from a committee including members of the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, seems to have been written by Dean's Office officials with administration concerns in mind. The UA should not allow itself to become a front for administration action and legitimize ideas which are contrary to the wishes and interests of the student body.

The most egregious proposal would prevent students from choosing to use their house taxes on alcohol. Decisions on how house taxes are allocated are made through the most representative decision-making process on campus -- voting within living groups. It would be the height of arrogance for the centralized UA to say it knows how students want to spend their money. This paternalistic measure would prevent students from participating in government at its most basic level.

It is ludicrous, but not surprising, that the committee cites a fundamentally flawed student survey as support for its program. The unscientific, self-selective, Registration Day survey was completed by only 11 percent of undergraduates, a majority of whom favored the use of house funds on alcohol. The survey, which was not even returned by a single resident of three separate dormitories, cannot be cited as evidence of anything, let alone as a mandate to decide how students' money should be spent. But the manipulation of the survey results by committee chair J. Paul Kirby '92 is hardly surprising. The house tax restriction was likely a fait accompli before the committee even met -- Kirby expressed concern about the use of house taxes shortly after the committee's formation last fall.

In addition to being an abuse of decision-making authority, the house tax restriction is also a bad policy. Currently, MIT's policy on alcohol permits consumption of alcohol in a regulated atmosphere. Any attempt to make it more difficult to interact and drink socially would only exacerbate any problems that already occur due to alcohol consumption. When students are no longer allowed to consume alcohol in open party settings, they will be driven into unmonitored private rooms, out of the sight of the Campus Police and party organizers. Such unsupervised alcohol use would be far more dangerous for the student population.

It is clear that the Dean's Office, which had three representatives on the committee, played a large role in writing the recommendations. This is highlighted most clearly by the proposal to create a dean for alcohol education, who would in part conduct the review of "our alcohol and drug efforts as required by the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act of 1988." It seems unlikely that students would be concerned with this legislation or would propose creating another disciplinarian in the Dean's Office. While encouraging alcohol education is essential, this effort does not require a new position, especially in difficult financial times.

Additionally, Kirby has defended the house tax ban because of the "legal ramifications" for MIT. This dubious issue should be a concern for MIT's lawyers, not undergraduate students. This is further evidence that the students on the committee have simply bowed to the administration's wishes. Indeed, the strongest defense of the plan that UA President Stacy E. McGeever '93 could make was that MIT would implement a policy of this sort regardless of the committee's opinion. This shows that the students on the committee were more interested in pleasing the administration than fighting for the interests of those they allegedly represent.

We urge all students opposed to the committee's recommendations to make their voices heard. Additionally, we urge the UA to recognize that it should reflect the concerns of students and not those of the MIT administration.