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Metal Detectors Will Be Used at Some Parties

By A. Arif Husain
Associate News Editor

Large on-campus parties will be required to use metal detectors under a policy that will take effect Aug. 29, said Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin.

The policy will apply to events open to non-MIT students, and to events with more than 250 people where alcohol will be served, Glavin said.

At events where metal detectors are used, each guest will have to pass a walk-through metal detector before entering, according to the Guidelines For Use of Metal Detectors at MIT Student Parties.

A hand-held metal detector will be used on anyone failing to clear the walk-through. Any guest who is unable or unwilling to clear the metal detector will be denied entrance and asked to leave the premises.

The Campus Police will determine the number of walk-through and hand-held metal detectors appropriate for a given event when the event is registered. The equipment will be provided by the Campus Police, and police officers, normally required at registered functions, will be present to handle any situations that may arise, Glavin said.

Students are divided about the policy. Christopher S. Schnyer '96, who helped with the Spring Weekend concert where metal detectors were used, said they will be "overkill."

"At concerts people expect [detectors]. In a party I really think it does kind of make people feel that you don't really trust them," Schnyer said.

Undergraduate Association President Carrie R. Muh '96 supports the policy. "Considering what happened at DKE a few years ago, I think it's not a bad idea," she said. "I have no problem with [the policy]."

Stabbing spurred interest

The Campus Police first considered using metal detectors after a stabbing incident at Delta Kappa Epsilon in November 1992, Glavin said. The incident was only one of a string of incidents, including a 1989 shooting in the Kresge Auditorium parking lot and two 1991 stabbings in the Student Center.

The idea was proposed jointly by the Campus Police, Campus Activities Complex, and the Office of Residence and Campus Activities. Next spring, the use of metal detectors will be evaluated next spring, Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski said.

The new policy is being targeted at events which attract people from outside the MIT community, Glavin said. Likely candidates for metal detectors will be social events held in La Sala de Puerto Rico and Lobdell Food Court, according to Ted E. Johnson, assistant director of programs in the Campus Activities Complex.

Large events in Johnson Athletic Center like concerts would also be candidates for metal detectors, Johnson said.

Dormitories will probably not need to use metal detectors, Glavin said. But the Campus Police will have the option of requiring metal detectors for large events that do not clearly meet the three criteria, she said.

Dormitories and independent living groups could also request metal detectors, Glavin said.

Several pilot tests

The metal detector system was tested at several parties before the policy was finalized, Jablonski said. Trials were held at events sponsored by Chocolate City and Kappa Alpha Psi.

Metal detectors were also tested at the Sonic Youth concert during Spring Weekend. The trials have helped determine how to position the detectors and improve efficiency, Jablonski said.

Sponsors of events using metal detectors must provide enough workers to assist in the screening process, Glavin said. Ideally, three students per walk-through detector are needed, she said. They will act as ushers to guide people through the walk-through. "It's exactly the same as an airport," she said.

The CAC plans to offer trained student screeners for groups lacking enough volunteers, or for groups who do not want to handle the job. Event sponsors have the option of choosing full or supplemental support. Screeners will be paid an hourly wage by event sponsors, Johnson said.