If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Liability is, of course, a driving force behind such policy changes as the housing of all freshmen on campus. The tragedy of 1997 could almost as easily have taken place in a dorm in 1997 (or happened to a non-freshman), and if it had, would we have seen the same reaction by the Institute? Probably not, since the students under closest MIT control would be faring worse than those once removed. In that case, there would be a crackdown on drinking in dorms, the fraternities would be off the hook, and life at MIT would continue substantially unchanged.
But Scott Krueger died in a fraternity and now that all the naive, impressionable freshmen will be housed on campus, I hope for the sake of MIT’s lawyers that nothing bad happens to them in the dorms. The Institute will have no one to blame but themselves (and the parents will blame them, too), and what will the next knee-jerk reaction be? By shelling out money to settle lawsuits and implementing huge policy changes, the Institute has painted themselves into a corner in case something like this happens again. Freshmen living in fraternities wasn’t the problem, but MIT “fixed” it and announced they’d solved the problem of college students’ binge drinking. The “solution” will open them up to even more liability. But at least we know that freshmen won’t live and die in frat houses.
Christina Gehrke ’99