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SAE, Alcohol, and Irresponsibility

The incident at Sigma Alpha Epsilon, where alcohol was served to visiting students during an event at the end of Campus Preview Weekend, was a severe violation of MIT's policies and Massachusetts law. Moreover, the Institute's attempts to hide the event from scrutiny are highly inappropriate and have further undermined MIT's credibility.

The fraternity violated the trust of parents and the Institute by serving alcohol to a visiting student. An event like this, where students are encouraged to break the law before even enrolling, makes the Institute look extremely irresponsible. The visiting high school students and their parents trust MIT to look after the visitors while they are here. This event made a mockery of that trust. The punishments meted out to SAE are reasonable and more severe sanctions would not be inappropriate.

MIT's behavior following the incident has been equally reprehensible. The trial conducted by the Interfraternity Council Judicial Committee occurred in near-secrecy. In most Judcomm cases, all the fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups are appraised of the situation, but this time they were not. Although the trial was conducted in accordance with the IFC constitution, neither the Institute nor the IFC should be hiding incidents like this from the community.

In an additional effort to hide the incident from public view, MIT also failed to inform several bodies that clearly should be appraised of the situation. MIT provided no information to SAE's national organization about the incident or punishment. The Institute also failed to inform the Boston Licensing Board. After the death of Scott S. Krueger '01, MIT pledged to improve communication with the board. Their failure to communicate in this case suggests these pledges were not made in good faith.

The Institute's haphazard handling of the incident also demonstrates how poorly the new alcohol policies actually function. After months of work, the administration produced what they touted as a comprehensive and uniform alcohol punishment policy. However, all these efforts proved a failure when faced with a serious incident to be addressed, as evidenced by the secretive and muddled handling of SAE's infraction.

SAE's actions in serving alcohol to visiting high school students were totally unacceptable. However, MIT's secretive and disorganized response was just as inappropriate. If MIT is to regain the trust of the community, it must do better.