Let us suppose for a moment that rumor and hearsay are true. Let us suppose that the majority of the MIT undergraduates enjoy alcohol on a regular basis. Let us suppose that most of the living groups hold private parties which traditionally and necessarily include drinking. Let us suppose that there are extensive soft drug distribution networks across campus; that there is some hard drug consumption; that the stoned people who scattered from hallways have recently moved behind the safety of closed doors.
I really want to know what people like President Charles Vest, Dean Rosalind Williams and Chancellor Lawrence Bacow think of this. There are three distinct cases.
First of all, they could be completely ignorant of all that is going on around them. This is very unlikely: I have had the chance to meet with all of them personally, and found them to be most perceptive people. But in this case, I am just really sorry for them, because the events of the last two years must have shocked them greatly. I am even more sorry for them for what they are going to discover in the future.
Secondly, they could be aware of it and are trying to dance on the knife edge, trying to survive in a hostile social environment of the media and local politics (especially the Boston Licensing Board). I would really sympathize with them. They are doing an incredibly hard job, risking their professional and civil lives. If they adhered to the insane laws of this country regarding alcohol, they would have to prosecute most of their students, hardly a course of action that a university administrator would want. They must be very scared. Every morning they probably call up Campus Police Chief Anne Glavin and ask her if there was another incident overnight. After all, it is better to know first. I can imagine closed meetings where they discuss strategies to somehow protect the campus life from blowing up.
The third case is that they indeed know everything, but are powerless to act without proof. They really wish to uproot this horrible and antisocial behavior at MIT, and they strive to create a constructive environment, for, say a few hundred students, where they can further their education and academic career without the interference from the drunken bozos who were all admitted by mistake. It is very simple to achieve this goal. May I suggest that MIT hire several hundred police troops for a Friday night, and at about 11 p.m., they ring the doorbells at all dormitories and independent living groups simultaneously. Expel everyone on site. Problem solved.
I really value the openness of the American society, the fact that the faculty and staff at MIT are very approachable. I wish I could sit down with President Vest in a nice pub, have a glass of imported beer (it’s okay, I am 26), and ask him, “Chuck, so what do you think of all this? You know, off the record, just between you and me?”
I am just curious.