Beta Theta Pi will be alcohol-free for three years as the result of a July 17 incident in which a Boston University police officer was injured, possibly for life, when beer bottles and cans were allegedly hurled off the roof at police.
The Boston Licensing Board, in its decision last Wednesday, also said the Kenmore Square-area fraternity will not house any non-fraternity residents next summer and that representatives of the fraternity and MIT must meet with Boston University (BU) administrators and Bay State Road residents to talk about how the fraternity can be a better neighbor.
After a contentious three-hour hearing last Tuesday, in which one member of the board announced he would vote to revoke the fraternity's license, the board also specified that the fraternity close off the roof deck at 119 Bay State Road and that MIT report back in 30 days on the Institute's attempts to secure law enforecement authority in Suffolk County for MIT campus police, so that they would have jurisdiction over the 19 MIT fraternities that are located across the river in Boston.
In another development, Phi Gamma Delta, also in Boston, remains suspended. MIT informed the fraternity in July that it could not support reopening the fraternity house because MIT still does not know what occurred on the evening of Scott Krueger's death because the grand jury investigation is still not complete. Fraternity alumni decided not to apply for a license to house undergraduates and said there would not be an active Phi Gamma Delta chapter for the next school year.
Regarding Beta Theta Pi, the Boston Licensing Board, which oversees dormitory licenses in Boston, said if the fraternity wishes to house summer residents after 1999, it will have to submit a plan outlining how they will be supervised. These restrictions apply to the fraternity's building at 120 Bay State Road as well as at 119 Bay State Road, where the beer bottles were thrown. The fraternity's dorm license is subject to revocation for any further violations, said the board, which imposed the sanctions with a 2-1 vote.
At the hearing, BU police officer James Berry testified that since the incident, he has undergone surgery on a disk in his neck that he ruptured while dodging the beer bottles.
Rosalind Williams, dean of students and undergraduate education, expressed her own and MIT's outrage that a police officer was assaulted. "To say this is serious is an understatement," she said. "I cannot overstate my anger." She emphasized that MIT is committed to doing anything in its power to identify the individuals who assaulted the police officer.
"MIT has the same expectations of law-abiding and neighborly behavior of summer residents as we do of fraternity members during the academic year," Dean Williams said. "Non-fraternity residents and fraternity members alike are informed of these expectations, and the fraternity members know they are responsible."
About the sanctions, she commented last Wednesday, "The Boston Licensing Board decision is constructive and consistent with the actions we have already taken. We have already initiated contact with Boston University officials and look forward to an ongoing and positive relationship. We want to be good neighbors and expect our students to be as well."
This summer, while only five Beta members lived at 119 Bay State Road, rooms were rented to 19 boarders. Beta members have said that they did not attend or authorize the gathering on July 17, although BU police have sought a magistrate's hearing next month to bring criminal charges of assult and battery with a dangerous weapon on a police officer and providing alcohol to underage persons against one of the fraternity members.
At the hearing, Beta members and an attorney representing the house took responsibility for failing to adequately supervise the boarders.
BU officials and police described the fraternity to the licensing board as "a constant threat to the neighborhood." A BU spokesman saidhe hoped that the board would "forever put an end" to what he referred to as a continual source of trouble on a block that consists primarily of buildings owned by BU and where many residents assume the building is also tied to BU.
BU police cited complaints from local residents about an overflowing dumpster and fraternity members blocking the sidewalk with ball games. "They clearly, as of this date, just don't get it," said Richard Towle, BU vice president of administrative services, about MIT.
In separate sanctions, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) banned alcohol at the house until Sept. 7, 1999, and fined the fraternity $1,000. In addition, the IFC will require 90 percent of the members to perform 30 hours of community service, preferably in the Bay State Road area.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 26, 1998.