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Samuel J. Keyser Named Special Assistant for Alcohol Education

Courtesy of Samuel J. Keyser
Professor Emeritus Samuel J. Keyser was recently appointed as the Interim Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Alcohol Education.
By Rima Arnaout
Staff Reporter

Professor Emeritus Samuel J. Keyser has been named the Institute's Interim Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Alcohol Education.

The appointment to a new position is accompanied by the approaching addition of five new Campus Police officers to support patrols of fraternities, sororities and independent living groups in Boston.

Both changes came out of suggestions by the Working Group on Dangerous Drinking, led by Professor Phillip A. Sharp, head of the biology department, and Dr. Mark Goldstein, chief of pediatrics and student health services at the medical department.

Keyser will work with President Charles M. Vest and Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow 72.

"I think Jay is a great appointment" to the position, Sharp said. "I think the students will find him fun, and he has a keen sense of the social."

Vest said that "Professor Keyser understands the culture of MIT, is an excellent communicator, and is very adept" at analyzing and resolving issues.

Keyser, who is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, will fill the special assistant for alcohol education position until a permanent replacement is be found.

A committee headed by Associate Provost Phillip A. Clay is currently searching for the permanent special assistant. Clay said the search committee is conducting a national search that will conclude by the spring. "We're looking basically for someone who can organize students, faculty, staff, medical personnel, police, as well as the larger community to address the issue of changing the culture of MIT."

Role of campus police expanded

The appointment of a new dean is not the only change occurring in alcohol-related policies.

According to Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin, campus police are in the process of hiring four patrol officers and one sergeant to start work by the beginning of March. The new squad will also receive a new cruiser with which to patrol the FSILGs in Boston from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. every evening.

Glavin said that "the officers in Boston will have the luxury of dealing with students one on one. As a result of that, we certainly hope that they'll have the chance to do meetings on a whole litany of things, including alcohol emergencies."

Campus Police announced in December that it will expand its patrol to the Back Bay, where most MIT fraternities are located.

The move "definitely evolved as a result of the Krueger situation," Glavin said, referring to the alcohol-related death of Scott S. Krueger '01 in the fall of 1997.

MIT follows recommendations

Keyser's appointment and expansion of the CPs role aren't the first change in MIT's alcohol policy since the working group issued its report. One change has been the requirement to place resident advisers in FSILGs, Sharp said.

"Another way has been to better coordinate medical transport service for students who need help in alcohol-related incidents," Sharp said.

The report of the working group, presented in May, investigated why and how MIT students drink and made nine recommendations to change MIT's handling of alcohol on campus.

The report urged the creation of "an administrative professional position responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing educational programs about dangerous drinking" as well as representing alcohol policy outside MIT. Keyser's appointment fulfills this recommendation.

There has also been talk of enhancing the ambulance service provided by Campus Police. The report's second resolution encouraged MIT officials to "reduce perceived barriers to providing medical care to dangerously intoxicated students."

Because the Campus Police have a dual role in providing Emergency Medical Technician service in addition to law enforcement, the report recommended that "when Campus Police is contacted on behalf of a dangerously intoxicated person, MIT should grant immunity' limited solely to alcohol citations and sanctions to students and their living groups."

According to Glavin, changes in the ambulatory service will wait for a follow-up of the May report from a committee headed by Professor John M. Essigmann. Essigmann could not be reached for comment.

"Our position right now is to strongly encourage kids to call the CPs if you need medical assistance," said Glavin.

The main question is whether Keyser's appointment and the Campus Police changes will help the Institute control alcohol on campus.

"I would be disappointed if it didn't," Sharp said. "There are so many facets" of the alcohol issue that appointing Keyser "can't help but improve the situation." Still, "this is not going to be a magic wand" that solves all of MIT's problems.