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EDITORIAL

Save Steer Roast

Changes proposed by the administration to Steer Roast would destroy a cherished MIT tradition. We challenge the administration to allow Steer Roast to continue at its Senior House location with all its traditional festivities.

The administration’s drastic changes to the Steer Roast event would eliminate the atmosphere of debauchery that is the hallmark of the event. The Johnson barbecue pits or the Student Center, venues suggested by Dean of Students Margaret R. Bates for this year’s Steer Roast, are no substitutes for the Senior House courtyard. Catering the event and removing the roasting of the steer -- the namesake of the event -- would totally alter the spirit of Steer Roast.

The MIT Safety Office claims the size of the steer roast fire, and the fire’s proximity to ledges on which people sit, are the causes for the proposed changes. However, as noted by Steer Roast organizer Blake R. Brasher ’01, the event has a clean safety record. Administrators have also cited concerns about more stringent enforcement of parties by the Cambridge Licensing Commission, but if those regulations present a problem, the Institute could certainly work out a compromise with the city government.

Instead, we believe one of the principal reasons for the changes to Steer Roast is the administration’s desire to change student behavior. MIT, wilting in the media spotlight, does not want to be associated with a loud, raunchy party, and instead wants its students to socialize in ways more acceptable to the administration. If this is the administration’s concern, it should be honest with the student body and not cloak its intentions in vague concerns of “safety.” The administration should recall that Steer Roast has been a safe event and that while reasonable precautions should be supported by all, it should not destroy an institution beloved by many students simply to sport a better face for the media.

Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 has talked about the need to build more “community” at MIT. Steer Roast is one event at which hundreds of MIT students find the community they desire. The administration must realize that Steer Roast is a positive community-building event in no need of reform.