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Re-examining Dorow’s Departure

It has been three and one-half years since the death of Scott S. Krueger ’01, but MIT is still hyper-sensitive about its image in the media and its attempt to break any and all connections to that tragic night at Phi Gamma Delta. Unfortunately, the Institute often allows this extreme caution to cloud its judgment, overreacts, and makes the wrong decisions. The circumstances surrounding the resignation of former Assistant Dean Neal H. Dorow is the latest example.

On Tuesday, The Tech reported that Dorow’s departure came after MIT officials learned that he had allowed Kevin E. McDonald ’00, Krueger’s “big brother” at Fiji, to serve as a resident adviser at Delta Upsilon. The campus media, including this outlet, had previously speculated that the resignation of the former FSILG adviser was prompted by the administration’s desire to rid itself of Krueger-era administrators.

The administration learned that McDonald was serving as RA upon investigating an alleged incident at DU. In September, a guest of a DU brother was allegedly assaulted by the brother, prompting the administration’s investigation. The MIT Campus Police concluded that DU was not at fault for the alleged incident.

We do not blame DU for seeking to hire McDonald as its RA. McDonald was known to the house -- his younger brother is a DU member -- and was comfortable serving there. Houses deserve the right to a great amount of input in hiring RAs, and RAs themselves should not be quasi-administrators dropped into FSILGs to police members but rather people whom residents can trust. If McDonald was that person for DU, we do not fault the fraternity for asking the administration to hire him.

McDonald has been treated unfairly by the administration. His departure as DU’s resident adviser came only after MIT officials learned of an alleged incident in which McDonald played no part. While some may question the wisdom of placing McDonald in the role of RA, it is clear that he had done nothing wrong while performing his duties at DU. We have no reason to believe that McDonald was not properly executing his functions as RA and know of no reason why he could not have continued to do so after the alleged assault. The incident alleged at DU was the action of one person -- not the house as a whole. The end of McDonald’s tenure as RA -- coming after an administration request for him to do so -- scapegoats him for an alleged incident in which he had no part.

As FSILG adviser, Dorow had the right to refuse to hire McDonald. He did not, and allowed McDonald to serve at DU.. That some may question this decision is understandable, but at DU McDonald appeared to have been doing a good job, and certainly had zero responsibility for the alleged incident. If the administration was so concerned with who was being hired as RA, it should have checked up earlier, rather than taking hasty, unsupported action upon accidentally discovering McDonald in the RA role.

If the alleged incident had occurred at any other living group, McDonald would probably still be at DU and Dorow could still be FSILG adviser. Yet both of them have lost their positions because of an alleged attack in which neither played any part. MIT has placed politics and image above what was working for DU residents in this affair.

What has MIT gained from the end of Dorow’s and McDonald’s tenures? The Institute might have a nicer political face to show to the TV cameras. But it brushed aside an RA whom it had no reason to believe was performing poorly, and an FSILG adviser who had made mistakes in the past but was trusted by the FSILG community. McDonald’s and Dorow’s resignations (which were technically “voluntary,” though assuredly not without administration pressure) punish them for an isolated incident in which they had no role. MIT’s actions in the aftermath of the alleged incident at DU are unfair overreactions, and punish those who had no role or responsibility in the alleged assault.

Editorial board member Mike Hall has recused himself from this editorial.