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No Evidence Supporting Refund Proposal

By Rosa Cao

Today’s Editorial makes a number of assertions that are more hopeful than credible.

Did MIT’s pre-1997 policy keep students safer than today’s? The authors have a theory, but MIT administrators presumably have the numbers. Are registered fraternity parties really safer than dormitories’? They might be, but without talking to people — Dean Trujillo is one suggestion — whose job it is to monitor the situation, we don’t have any evidence one way or the other.

Students ignore the current party-registration policy (hence the authors’ motivation to suggest a new one). If MIT allowed dormitory money to be spent on alcohol, would upperclassmen really come out of the woodwork to register their drinking-parties and exclude their underage friends? Probably not.

What, then, are the two members of of our five-member editorial board who signed the above editorial really saying? They wring their hands over “receipt swapping,” but rather than asking for a crackdown on this small-time fraud, they ask that the black market be legitimized. They don’t argue that we shouldn’t be using school money for strippers, but rather that we should also use it on entertainment that less than a fourth of the undergraduate population can legally participate in.

Some under-21 students are going to get alcohol from upperclassmen. At the same time, MIT obviously needs to comply (or appear to comply) with state and federal law; can we really blame the Institute for declining to buy beer for its students? Given the pink pachyderm that was totally ignored in the editorial, MIT’s caution post-1997 seem entirely reasonable.

Without a more coherent set of recommendations — and without evidence for their effectiveness — I respectfully dissent.