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Metal Detectors Are Not Worth Their Cost

My naive hope when I saw Tuesday's headline in The Tech, "Parties May See Metal Detectors," [May 3] was that "Metal Detectors" was some new local band. It would probably make a cool name for a band too, right after "Drug-Sniffing Dogs," but a pretty silly headline.

According to The Tech, Campus Police want to require a police presence and a metal detector at any party which they "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." This leaves ... prayer meetings? And many of those are attended by non-students!

OK, maybe parties with 250 or more people and live bands need CP presence. I suppose metal detectors wouldn't be unreasonable either, provided they don't go off at every Brass Rat to enter the room. A police presence at every party where alcohol is served is quite a different story.

I can't speak for other living groups, but as a recently retired East Campus social chair I feel I can say with absolute certainty that this mandatory CP presence will greatly dampen the social environment here at EC. For the last year-and-a-half we've done our utmost to have a party every weekend. Yes, the parties are small but are a generally welcome diversion nonetheless. And the cost of hiring a single CP for the mandatory four hours amounts to almost one-third of the total budget of a typical party. The parties are most often on individual halls, with fairly restricted access.

Of course, we can't fault the intentions of the Campus Police. Presumably if they were to station an officer at every potential trouble spot, we would be a lot safer and their lives would be a lot simpler. This, of course, is why we see officers permanently stationed at every dark corner of the Institute and why they've installed key-card locks on the Harvard Bridge so that only MIT students can use it after dark.

But the CPs don't do this, and for good reason - it's certainly not cost-effective compared to regular patrols. Apparently their threshold for wasting money changes when they can spend our money instead of spending "our" money.

Paul J. Butkiewicz '94