Krueger's Family Speaks Out; MIT May Face Added Public ScrutinyBy Zareena Hussain
The Institute has once again come into the media spotlight as Newsweek published an interview with the family of Scott S. Krueger '01 about the events leading up to and after his death in its June 15 issue.
The now eight month long grand jury investigation into the drinking death of the freshman and Phi Gamma Delta pledge is beginning to focus on MIT's possible liability in the case, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.
Several MIT administrators have voluntarily testified to the grand jury after being summoned by Martin, including President Charles M. Vest and Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin.
Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for Suffolk County district attorney Ralph C. Martin III, declined to comment on the case.
The Boston Globe published an editorial today criticizing MIT's policies on alcohol in comparison to other universities. The editorial also suggested that the Institute work towards a voluntary settlement with the state attorney general's office that would increase alcohol enforcement and education in order to protect it from potential criminal charges.
The Globe also urged that MIThouse all freshmen on campus. "MIThas the space. It has lacked the will to change the policy."
Precedent for the Institute's potential criminal liability comes in the case of Commonwealth v Welansky. In the 1944 case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled an owner of a nightclub was liable for the deaths of its patrons in a fire.
This ruling made it possible for individuals not at the scene of a crime to face criminal charges if there was "willful, wanton, or reckless conduct," according to Mark G. Perlin, a law professor at Suffolk University.
Additionally, in November of last year, the grand jury called Han Huang G of the derecognized MIT Extropians to testify.
According to Huang, while he did testify as to his own knowledge of underage drinking at a Fijiparty he had attended near the beginning of the school year, he was also questioned extensively by the prosecutor handling the case and later by the grand jury concerning details of the current state of housing and orientation at the Institute.
Huang said he was also questioned about the administration's response to a flyer warning parents of the dangers of drinking and fraternity life placed in Walker Memorial at a parents' brunch during Parents' Orientation last year.
Huang said he testified to the grand jury that it an administrator confiscated the flyers before being seen by parents. Huang also said to the grand jury that after this incident was covered on local television news, another administrator e-mailed him saying that the Extropians' flyers were passed out at another Parents' Orientation event.
Coverage follows Newsweek story
The resurrection of local media coverage about Krueger's death comes in the wake of the interview with his family about the tragedy featured in Newsweek.
Krueger's family has been quiet up to this point and has only talked to Newsweek in such detail about the events as they saw them.
"They are a very private family. They are not much disposed to talking to the media," said attorney Bruce Henry, an assistant to attorney Leo V. Boyle, the chief attorney for the Krueger family.
The family first was contacted by Newsweek in the early part of 1998, Henry said, and the decision to release the story halfway into the year was made by Newsweek, not the family.
Although the family will wait until the proceeding of the grand jury investigating Krueger's death to decide, Henry said, "We believe a civil suit is likely, perhaps even probable."
The news office responded to the article in Newsweek after the magazine issued a press release on Sunday that the story would be printed
"We simply do not push students into fraternities," Williams stated in the press release. She also said that there is guaranteed housing for all freshmen on campus and that at any time a freshman who has pledged a fraternity may move back on campus.
The press release also noted the steps that have been taken by the Institute to combat underage drinking since last fall.
Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean of residence and campus activities and adviser to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups said the Newsweek article looked only at the Fiji incident and "ignored the steps that the [Interfraternity Council] and administration have taken."
The press release also responded to the prospect of a civil or criminal suit against MIT. "Bringing criminal charges would be the worst message to send to universities at a time when they are trying to deal with the complex matters of student drinking."
"It inevitably would encourage universities to divorce themselves from any supervision of fraternities, so that they can minimize their legal responsibility for incidents that occur off campus," the response stated.