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Trujillo Hosts Forum On Campus Drinking

By Thomas J. Kilpatrick

MIT’s new Associate Dean for Alcohol Education and Community Development, Daniel Trujillo, hosted the first of many on-campus discussions dealing with alcohol issues at Next House on Tuesday evening.

The entire MIT community was invited to attend Tuesday’s forum. Trujillo has already hosted similar discussions at a few fraternity houses.

“At this point we’re trying to get a feel for the community and the issues,” Trujillo said. “We’re also trying to work with the athletic department to set something up with some of the teams.”

More than 20 members of the community showed up for free food and open discussion about alcohol issues. Trujillo emphasized early that he did not come to “preach abstinence.” Rather, the forum focused on defining the role that alcohol plays in the MIT community and how students feel about this role.

Community shares thoughts

Is alcohol a necessary part of the college experience? Do you think more than half of MIT students drink at least two times per week? Is it okay for students to drink under the age of 21? Is alcohol a problem at MIT? At Next House?

These were the open-ended questions which Trujillo asked to the attendees to began the discussion.

Many of the responses to these questions by those in attendance seemed to differ substantially according to gender.

Only six people, all males, thought that alcohol was a necessary part of the college experience, compared to thirteen who did not. Nine of the thirteen were women.

“It’s an important part of your life to experience new things, but it’s not necessary,” said Bert Keith-Avril ’05.

Only four students thought alcohol was a problem at MIT, but thirteen others thought it was not.

Keith A. Bonawitz ’02 was in the minority. “Alcohol issues still need to be addressed,” Bonawitz said. “I’ve seen a lot of students unwilling to call medical transport, or destroying property.”

Stacy J. Morris G, a graduate resident tutor, agreed. “I get really nervous when I see closed doors and think people might be taking shots in there.”

Underage drinking discussed

Most of the attendees thought that underage drinking was okay in principle.

An international transfer student gave an interesting perspective on the alcohol situation. He said that he thought underage drinking was okay because there is a different cultural perspective of alcohol in most European countries.

However, dissenters to this opinion still made their opinions heard.

“It’s illegal,” said Katherine A. Leskin ’05.

Morris supported the freshman. “I’m a little torn, but personally I didn’t drink until I was 21.”

The forum lasted for a little less than two hours, and at the end, those who remained felt it was worth their time, including Trujillo.

“I thought participation was excellent, and turnout was especially good considering it was in the middle of the week,” Trujillo said.