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Working Group Releases Report on Binge Drinking

By Douglas E. Heimburger
News Editor

The Working Group on Binge Drinking recently called upon the Institute to revise its sanction policies when medical transports are involved and to improve social opportunities on campus.

In presenting its reports at a press conference on May 13, Professor of Biology and Department Head Phillip A. Sharp said that the group was concerned about potential consequences associated with contacting the current ambulance service, run by the Campus Police.

"It should be a universal rule among MITstudents that they immediately call"for help at the first sign of any alcohol-related trouble, Sharp said.

Providing a service that is separated "as completely as possible" from any MITsanction or penalty for alcohol use would encourage the prompt use of life-saving help, said Chief of Pediatrics and Student Health Services Mark A. Goldstein, who chaired the group with Sharp.

"The Campus Police if at all possible would grant immunity"in order to encourage transport, Sharp said.

The current sanctions system, established earlier this year, calls for students to receive increasing penalties for the underage consumption of alcohol or for serving alcohol to a minor.

The recommendation is "very close to the discussion"currently occurring within the administration, said Dean of Students and Undergraduate EducationRosalind H. Williams. The administration is working on ways to improve the medical transport service on campus.

"The Campus Police will be, and remain an effective transport service,"Sharp said, provided that students don't hesitate in calling for service.

New social plans recommended

The working group also recommended the establishment of additional function space in the Student Center with the goal of enhancing student social life.

"During the past few years, a significant fraction of the social life of MIT has involved parties with alcohol," the report commented. "These social events have recently become much less common, and new social events have not developed in their absence."

A "recreation room-type space with juke-boxes, a grill, a dance floor and booths for causal meetings," could help to improve student social life, according to the report.

In addition, the development of a "large and expensive bureaucracy" has led to the disappearance of large social events at the Student Center.

Until a few years ago, several libraries were open 24 hours a day, Goldstein said. Expanding library and athletic facility hours could help to restore social life, he said.

"In essence, MITneeds a social chairperson and the resources to support one,"the report concluded.

The recent announcement of $200,000 in additional funds for student groups show the administration's commitment to social life on campus, Williams said. "I'm hopeful that there might be more"funding for additional new programs in the future.

Administrative position created

Anew administrative position will oversee alcohol policy at the Institute, President CharlesM.Vest announced in a statement at the news conference.

The position comes out of recommendations of the working group, which strongly urged the creation of a new position at the senior administrative level to develop programs on dangerous drinking and to establish programs to change the acceptance of dangerous drinking. The administrator will also encourage research on alcohol use at the Institute and communicate with city, state and federal leaders and parents on alcohol issues.

The new position will "reinforce things in motion,"Williams said, and will improve policy because it will be at a level higher than the various groups involved in controlling drinking such as the Medical Center and Williams' office.

The report also urged that all living groups who participate in rush have an "MITpresence,"including graduate residence tutors, housemasters, and the nightwatch security force in the dormitories.

In order to improve security at fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, the report encouraged the extension of nightwatch into the residences. "Such monitoring and the potential of issued sanctions for inappropriate activities would provide boundaries to dangerous drinking in living groups,"the report wrote.

The forthcoming extension of graduate residence tutors to the FSILGs and potential inspections of common areas in the residences could also help in controlling drinking.

The report also said that housing all freshmen on campus could help control drinking, but that other factors were involved in a decision to move all freshmen to campus.

Finally, it called for the creation of new alcohol education programs and for the mandatory expansion of the Medlinks program to all residential floors of dormitories and to all FSILGs.