An agreement that will end Phi Gamma Delta's existence as a recognized MIT fraternity is expected to be formalized shortly. The fraternity has had a chapter at MIT since 1889.
The fraternity lost its dormitory license after 1997-98 freshman pledge Scott Krueger died as a result of alcohol poisoning. Mr. Krueger had been drinking at the fraternity house and lapsed into a coma on Sept. 26, 1997. He died three days later at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Phi Gamma Delta's alumni corporation, the Malcolm Cotton Brown Corp., decided last summer not to ask the Boston Licensing Board to renew its dormitory license after MIT said it would not support such a request. Three members have been living as caretakers at the house at 28 The Fenway in Boston since January. The house has been at that location since 1924.
In a letter to returning students, Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind Williams said:
"Phi Gamma Delta, or Fiji, has effectively ceased to operate. The members have not resided there since January 1998, when the Boston Licensing Board revoked the house's dormitory license for seven months. MIT decided not to support a request for reoccupancy of the house this fall, and the fraternity chose not to make that request without MIT's support. The chapter and MIT are now finalizing an agreement that would formally end MIT's recognition of the fraternity."
Officers of the fraternity are in the process of approving the agreement.
"The overwhelming majority of MIT students who reside in FSILGs [fraternities, sororities and independent living groups] have been good citizens, good neighbors and good members of the MIT community," Dean Williams wrote. "Indeed, many FSILG students have been truly extraordinary in the maturity and hard work they have shown in responding to the events of the past year and in undertaking the responsibilities of self-governance of which they are justly so proud.
"Even more hard work will be needed. FSILGs have to reaffirm good relations with their neighbors; to reassure parents and incoming students that they provide safe, healthy living environments; to establish clear limits as to what constitutes unacceptable behavior; and, in some cases, to detach the social life of the group from any dependence on alcohol.
"We all understand, however, that proclaiming rules is one thing; having people abide by them is something else. The MIT administration will take all reasonable measures to enforce underage drinking regulations, but ultimately we depend upon your good judgment, especially when it comes to avoiding dangerous drinking. We are all worried about two things.
"First, we want to prevent dangerous drinking and not just drive it underground. Second, we want students to continue to call for help in any medical emergency, including those related to alcohol, and not have the fear of sanctions delay or deter such calls."
MEDICAL TRANSIT QUESTION
Dean Williams said the Committee on Student Affairs will evaluate current and alternative procedures for transporting intoxicated students to medical facilities to ensure that students call for medical help during emergencies. The committee is chaired by Professor John Essigmann, house-master at New House and a member of the Working Group on Dangerous Drinking.
"This committee's student members would be happy to hear your comments and suggestions as they develop their recommendations," said Dean Williams. They are Rebecca L. Carrier, Ana K. Claudio, Geoffrey J. Coram, Amhad M. Elmouelhi, Ritu Gupta and Matthew L. McGann.
Dean Williams reported that a wide variety of student groups were planning a Fall Festival from October 19-24 that will include swing lessons culminating in a weekend dance, cultural discussions leading to an international fair and community service opportunities ending in a concert. The events will be supported by newly available funds for student activities.
"The Fall Festival is an example of the kind of social event that can be fun for everyone without any place for alcohol consumption," Dean Williams said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 16, 1998.