Antitrust Trial Ends In Penn.

Verdict Awaited

Lawyers for both the government and MIT gave their closing arguments before a U.S. District Judge in Philadelphia yesterday, the tenth day of the MIT antitrust trial.

Justice Department attorney D. Bruce Pearson rested the government's case before Judge Louis Bechtle, charging that MIT had directly violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. MIT officials met with representatives of other Universities to determine mutual financial aid awards for students accepted at more than one of the schools.

"There was an exchange of information, and that was no act of charity. That was collusion, an antitrust was engaged in market competition [for student]," Person said.

But MIT lawyer Thane Scott countered Pearson's argument, saying that because MIT is a charitable institution,it is not subject to he Sherman Antitrust Act,which was enacted to regulate for-profitbusinesses and interstate commerce.

"The claims that he Antitrust Division has madein this case are my-opic and misguided. They'rebased on a one-size-fits-all approach under theantitrust laws to police commercial competition,"Scott said.

"But MIT is unlike any institution that theAntitrust Division has encountered. MIT's functionis to teach, to discover and to build. Yet, in theeyes of the Antitrust Division, such aninstitution is indistinguishable from amanufacture of toaster ovens or porcelainfixtures," he said.


The government continued to argue that MIT andthe Ivy League college had conspired illegally fixtuition prices. Until last year, finical aidofficers form MIT and the eight Ivy League Schoolsmet to share information about commonly acceptedstudents and to readjust financial aid awards aaccordingly.

The Justice Department originally broughtcharges against the Ivy league school as well asagainst MIT. But all eight school settled out ofcourt with the government in May 1991, agreeing tostop this aspect of their financial aid process,called overlap, until the Year 2001.

Scott, however, stressed that overlap is anentirely charitable process.

"MIT is performing a social function. The overlap program is a give-away program. Every single school [in overlap] bypasses students who can pay for thosewho can't pay."

The government rebuffed the argument, sayingthat overlap occurred for less altruistic reasons.

"MIT saved $2000 per student because ofoverlap," Person said.

But Scott said overlap did not increase revenuefor MIT.

"If you look at the data, you will see that lowincome families benefited from overlap," Scottsaid.

Both sides will have two weeks to filepost-trial briefs for Bechtle to consider andread. Bechtle gave no indication, however of whenthe will issue a verdict on the case, said MITspokesperson, kenneth D. Campbell.

Earlier in the day, MIT's "Key" witness,University of Chicago economist Dennis .W.Carlton, testified. Both sides brought experteconomist and data charts to court to supporttheir cases.

"It was a war of the economists at the end"Campbell said. The mood on the final day of thetrial was very exciting, he added.

"It was a very electric atmosphere at the endof the day," he said

This story was compiled with wiredispatches.