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ADA Compliance Should Cover Sobriety Programs as Well

ADA Compliance Should Cover Sobriety Programs as Well

The Institute's plan for fuller compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements is apparently limited to increasing services and improving accessibility of facilities for physically handicapped people ["MIT Creates Ad Hoc Committee to Address Compliance with ADA," Oct. 4]. These are important goals, but missing is support for sobriety.

"Sure," you laugh, "Drinking too much . . . a disability?!" Excessive drinking, dangerous in itself for anyone, can lead to active alcoholism in some people. The disease is included in the list of mental and emotional impairments covered by the ADA. Like many universities, I believe MIT does too little to prevent alcohol-related problems and intervenes too late with students affected by early stages of alcoholism and other addictive diseases.

The Health Education Service is currently trying new tactics to address these issues, including its Wellness Equation and MedLinks efforts, but these are not adequately integrated with other initiatives in part because the service is understaffed and currently without a director. With adequate resources, MIT can adapt some of the creative and effective public health programs - informational campaigns involving a variety of media - that already exist. And we can design strategies uniquely appropriate to MIT's special character.

For the most part, the Institute does not address alcohol problems that threaten increasing numbers of college students, particularly college women. We should not ignore the opportunity to develop special programs in this area and link other new initiatives - like MedLinks and Mediation - with ADA compliance efforts and established medical and social work services. These could help all Institute community members, not only students, cope with personal and interpersonal challenges.

Eve Sullivan

Senior Editorial Assistant

Center for Theoretical Physics (LNS)