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Another Falls in the Krueger Aftermath

The recent departure of Assistant Dean Neal H. Dorow raises many disturbing questions about the state of the MIT administration as it continues to recover from the death of Scott S. Krueger ’01. Although it is MIT policy not to comment on personnel issues, students are owed some sort of explanation for his departure, especially given the timing and manner in which Dorow left the Institute and the direct role he played in students’ lives.

The Tech believes that there was a strong possibility that this sudden departure was related to MIT’s efforts to revise its residence system following the 1997 alcohol-related death of Krueger. The departure was announced very shortly after a settlement was reached with the Kruegers, and during a period when MIT is very publicly seeking to distance itself from the environment before Krueger’s death. Dorow had one of the most influential roles in the administration of the FSILG system in which Krueger died.

Other circumstances surrounding Dorow’s departure suggest that he did not leave without encouragement from the administration. Unlike any recent resignation in the administration, Dorow left only two days after announcing his departure, and provided very little notification to students. His farewell letter did not mention any reasons for his decision, not even stating the very obvious possibilities, such as his desire to spend more time with his family, or his feeling that he had been in this position for a very long time and needed to move on.

The possible firing of Dorow is perhaps one of the last steps in MIT’s effort to remove the administration of members who played influential roles in creating and promoting the residential environment which MIT is now trying to move away from. Since Krueger’s death, many high-profile administrators, including former Dean for Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams and former Dean of Student Life Margaret R. Bates, have announced their decisions to leave the administration. This pattern is further evidence that Dorow was the final piece of MIT’s plan to change their administrative landscape and revise the residential system.

If MIT felt that Dorow was directly responsible for the negative circumstances surrounding Krueger’s death, having him leave the Institute before the settlement would have raised suspicions. That he remained at the Institute until after the Krueger settlement may have allowed MIT to use his departure as another sign that it is making efforts to change.

Dorow’s departure also brings up the issue of the relationship between students and administrators, and the expectations which should be placed on administrators. Throughout his term, Dorow fought hard to preserve the FSILG system and advocated strongly for the wishes of the students he advised. Despite his awareness of problems with the system and the permanent association he will have with Krueger’s death, Dorow performed his job as a student advocate and advisor as effectively as he could. Unfortunately, the message that this situation sends to other administrators is that they may be faced with the possibility of taking responsibility for student actions, and will then move closer to a policing role rather than an advising role. Administrators should serve primarily as advisors to students, recognizing that they are adults and should be allowed to make decisions as adults.

Whether or not the departure of Dorow was related to the Krueger settlement, the lack of any information leaves no choice but to suspect the worst. If MIT wishes to remain silent on this and all other personnel issues, they must at least address the suspicions raised on the string of administrator departures, and assure the community that administrators will not be held completely responsible for student actions.