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Parties May See Metal Detectors

By Nicole A. Sherry
Staff Reporter

The Campus Police is considering a policy that would require certain on-campus student parties and dances to use metal detectors to screen people entering the event, according to Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin.

Student reaction to the idea is largely negative. Many students at dormitories and independent living groups say that the program is unnecessary and would be a waste of money.

The Campus Police is working on the proposal with the Residence and Campus Activities office and the Campus Activities Complex office. Because the policy is still in its planning stages, the date at which it will be implemented has not been set yet, Glavin said. Also, the Campus Police has to determine how many detectors to purchase, she said.

It is possible that the program could become voluntary rather than mandatory, said Hans C. Godfrey '93, Undergraduate Association president.

The proposal calls for mandatory use of metal detectors at campus parties and dances where organizers or the Campus Police believe that over 250 people will attend, parties that are open to non-MIT students, parties at which alcohol will be served, or parties with a live band. Metal detectors could also be required for other events at the discretion of the chief of Campus Police, according to the draft proposal.

These events would also require a Campus Police officer to be present at the group's expense. The officers would train the event organizers to operate the machines, according to the proposal.

Event organizers can also request to have metal detectors if their parties do not fit the criteria, and organizers for events that do fit the criteria can request an exemption from the policy, according to the proposal.

Independent living groups could also ask for use of the metal detectors, Glavin said. The difficulty may arise when many functions occur simultaneously, and the Campus Police cannot accommodate all the requests, she said.

Past cases prompted proposal

Glavin initiated the metal detector proposal, and her concern stemmed from violent actions that have occurred at MIT in the past, such as the stabbing at Delta Kappa Epsilon in 1992 and the stabbing at a party in the Student Center in 1991.

"Today, unfortunately, people are carrying weapons more often and resorting to them for settling disputes all too quickly," Glavin said.

Glavin said she is not aware of other universities in the immediate Boston area which offer this type of service, except during special occasions. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst does use metal detectors to screen party-goers, she said, and Northeastern University occasionally uses them.

Currently a committee which includes representatives from the Campus Police, RCA, CAC, the Dormitory Council, the UA, the Graduate Student Council, and the Interfraternity Council are gathering student input and revising the proposal, Godfrey said.

Program may be unnecessary

In general, students said that mandatory use of metal detectors at parties would not be effective. Social chairs at MacGregor House, Burton House, DKE, Delta Tau Delta, and Phi Sigma Kappa were interviewed last night, and all said that the program is unnecessary.

"I think that if Campus Police were made more available and cheaper, that would be more effective," said Robert C. Rosenfeld '94, head social chair at DKE. "This is overkill. Even if someone had a knife, there would be no way we could take it off him. It would be more likely to start something," he said.

"This may be an naive point of view for me to have, but I don't think that we would attract the type of people that would carry handguns," said Esther S. Dutton '96, co-social chair at MacGregor. "If I had the decision, I would put money into Safe Ride or having actual human beings there to protect students," she added.

Other students also disagree with the proposal.

"I think that it is a waste of money because they're trying to address a problem that doesn't exist," said Alan A. Duros '94. "They should put their efforts to more immediate concerns such as the failing food service situation in dorms," he said.

Though the current proposal calls for requiring metal detectors at on-campus student parties and dances, "it may be more appropriate for a fraternity party environment if at all," Duros said.

"It's a waste of money," said Eleni C. Digenis '94. "Parties are restricted to MIT or college students. They're not open to random people off the street," she said. "There's a whole bunch of things that would set [a metal detector] off so people would end up turning it off or going around it," she added.

The committee is considering a reform in the alcohol policy to accompany the proposal requiring metal detectors, Godfrey said.

(Sarah Y. Keightley '95 contributed to the reporting of this story.)