Large Party Ban Should End Soon
In December, when the Office of Residence and Campus Activities responded to the shooting of a Northeastern University student in front of Walker Memorial by banning most large, late-night events, many members of the MIT community assumed that the ban would be temporary. The prohibition against these large events has now lasted more than two months; several large events have been cancelled, and others are now at risk. We support the RCA's original plan to temporarily ban these events to explore security options. Yet we also recognize the negative impact the ban has had on student life, and believe that the dean's office should set a firm and early date for the lifting of the ban, independent of the progress of the current discussions with student groups.
During the past two months, the dean's office and the Campus Police have begun a series of discussions and meetings with student leaders and student groups. The purpose of these discussions has been to explore different ideas as to how the security problems with large events might be handled in the future. There seems to be some consensus among the participants that the current system of metal detectors and police details has not been adequate, particularly in dealing with crowds of people from outside the MIT community that sometimes assemble near the entrances of events.
A number of options have been raised by both administrators and students, ranging from advanced ticket sales and limited admission, to somehow improving the logistics of moving people into or away from event entrances. It is too early to tell whether any of these solutions will prevail, or even if they would work. Hopefully, the policy that results from these inclusive discussions will represent a broad community consensus of how best to deal with the current problems.
While we endorse the process of developing solutions to our security problems, we acknowledge that progress to date appears somewhat slow. Nobody should expect students and administrators to arrive at a good solution immediately, but with the moratorium on large events in place, there is a large incentive to rush a discussion that has really only begun.
The original purpose of the events moratorium was to end the dangerous situation at large parties while the MIT community explored different policy options. First, we believe that student life is being very adversely affected by the ban. Several important events have already gone by the boards. Planning for all major spring term events is stalled owing to the great uncertainty concerning the ban's duration. Second, the time pressure has acted to rush the discussions now under way. The dean's office has expressed an interest in developing a concrete, comprehensive policy. That will take time. Third, a temporary solution now exists that would allow for the lifting of the ban without returning to the dangerous situation of previous years. Limited, advanced ticket distribution for large events can be implemented right now. It would do much to deter crowds of uninvited guests from showing up for such events at all, and might also help move people into events more quickly.
The important thing right now is to find a temporary security measure that can replace the moratorium during the several months that it may take to flesh out ideas raised in these discussions. The events moratorium has placed an artificial time-pressure on those valuable discussions. It is also threatening to severely impact student life on the MIT campus. While we endorse the administration's strategy to date, we feel that the dean's office should commit itself to ending the moratorium on a specific date, even if other, interim measures are required to insure the safety of the members of the MIT community and their guests.