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MIT Needs Honesty On Krueger's Death

In his letter to The Tech ["Pledging Is an Issue," Tuesday, Oct. 7] James J. O'Donnell '00 expressed that he was disturbed by statements made by me and other "leaders in the MIT community."

I apologize that what I was trying to say was not clearly communicated. When I said that an incident like the death of Scott S. Krueger '01 "could have happened at several fraternities it could have happened in a dorm," I was explaining how the problems exposed by this horrible incident are most certainly not limited to Phi Gamma Delta or even just fraternities. Also, I feel very strongly that the problems do not exist at every dorm or at every fraternity, sorority, and independent living group.

I don't doubt that Krueger made choices that contributed to this tragedy. But even if this incident was an innocent accident (a possibility I sincerely doubt), it serves as a wake-up call for reform. I have seen - in my own experience, in talking with others about their experiences with all types of fraternities, and in professional research - that subjugating freshmen to the status of pledges is very dangerous. It leads, in varying degrees, to abuse and humiliation of freshmen and specifically to irresponsible acts (often involving alcohol, sex, or violence) which are meant - in some twisted group mentality - to demonstrate one's worthiness or masculinity. Such behavior is perpetuated for the next pledge class.

No one can say at this juncture that any of this is what killed Krueger. However, even the most basic inquiry will reveal a disturbing number of potentially deadly "near misses" - involving a variety of irresponsible behaviors - that occur every month at MIT.

We at least owe the brothers, family, and friends of Krueger an honest evaluation of this incident. We owe it to ourselves and each other to fix once and for all some of the problems that plague our institution.

Christopher D. Beland '00