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Four Students Named To Alcohol Seminar

By Jean K. Lee
Associate News Editor

Four students were named to the Working Group on Prevention of Binge Drinking yesterday, rounding out the group commissioned by President Charles M. Vest to examine binge drinking on college campuses.

Following the alcohol-related death of Scott S. Krueger '01, Vest promised a student-faculty seminar to investigate binge drinking and develop educational materials. The two co-chairs of the seminar, Professor of Biology Phillip A. Sharp and Chief of Pediatrics and Student Health Services Mark A. Goldstein were named last month.

"I am very positive about being involved in the seminar," Goldstein said. "I believe the combination of a researcher and a clinician as co-chairs is ideal."

The committee will survey existing programs at other universities and closely study the uniqueness of the MIT environment to make recommendations in dealing with binge drinking.

"The overuse of alcohol among students is seen at almost all universities in this country and MIT is no exception," Goldstein said. "Many colleges are watching us closely since they have similar issues."

"Hopefully, the committee will be able to make recommendations that will result in materials that will educate students and people around the students, create an environment that will be less receptive for binge drinking and where it will be less acceptable for binge drinking," Sharp said.

"Education of the entire MIT community including faculty, students and administrators taken in a broad context will in itself lead to more responsible drinking," Goldstein said. Other areas to look into include peer pressure and "how to deal with stress in an appropriate manner in the culture of MIT."

The group plans to meet weekly or biweekly until the end of the academic year to hold discussions and consult with local and national experts on a wide range of issues related to binge drinking.

"There is an entire constellation of issues which need to be addressed including injury both physical, emotional and psychological to the drinker as well as those individuals around the drinker," Goldstein said.

However, the committee will not be deeply involved in the freshmen housing issues, as other groups will focus on them, Sharp said.

The group includes: Juan L. Rodriguez '98, Ritu Gupta '99, Susan E. Rushing '99, Pascal R. Chesnais G, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Suzanne H. Corkin, Professor of Toxicology John M. Essigmann PhD '76, Professor of Physics Edward H. Farhi, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Alan V. Oppenheim '59, Assistant Professor of Political Science Kenneth A. Oye, and the two co-chairs, Sharp and Goldstein.

Although the group size will be kept "small enough to be able to work together effectively," the committee will reach out to various parts of MIT and hold frequent discussions with students, faculty, administrators, alumni and parents, Sharp said.

Administrators will not take part in the seminar, but the committee will be in close communication with the Dean's Office and will report to the President's Office. "You don't want to be working in a vacuum," Sharp said. "We have to find ways of making things fit in the context and fabric of MIT."