2 Fiji seniors expelled for theft
11.5pi on front page
(By Andrea Lamberti)
Two seniors, John S. Fortunato '91 and Garret M. Moose '91, were expelled for allegedly stealing over $70,000 in computer equipment from MIT and installing it in the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) house. Justin M. Glotfelty '92, who was also in
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volved in the thefts, was not expelled.
The three are still members of Fiji, however, Moose said. While the fraternity "doesn't support what we did, they are still supporting us," he said. But Fiji corresponding secretary Marc A. Indeglia '92 said the three were no longer members; he added that membership could be given to the three at some point in the future.
The national organization of Fiji has conducted a membership review and taken other action within the chapter to address the thefts: Through a set of objectives outlined by the national for a chapter reorganization, the chapter will now be in more frequent contact with local alumni and the national representatives, both of whom will take on a more supervisory role, according to Robert E. Baney III, Fiji national representative.
MIT has placed the chapter on a three-year probation with no restrictions, according to Neal H. Dorow, advisor to fraternities and independent living groups. MIT concurs with the national's actions thus far, Dorow said. He added, "Our expectation is that national and the alumni are going to follow through with commitments they made to the chapter."
Dean's Office recommended
Moose said he and Fortunato were not allowed to complete their classes but were expelled with the option of petitioning for re-admission after June 1, 1995.
He declined to comment on the fairness of the action MIT has taken against him, or why Glotfelty was not expelled as he and Fortunato were.
But he said "the CPs are trying to link us to a bunch of other incidents that we weren't involved in." He added that while the three had been accused of stealing over $70,000 -- or "everything that's missing from MIT" -- they "didn't have anything to do with most of it."
Moose said the thefts totaled about $40,000.
The Campus Police were led to members of Fiji after being tipped off by an informant in January. Campus Police were investigating computer thefts at MIT since August 1990.
Moose said the three had returned some stolen equipment that the Campus Police had no lead on, and "some equipment they didn't even know was stolen."
Moose denied that the three had any intention of selling the stolen property. The computers were treated as personal property, he said.
Tewhey said he could not comment on why punishments of varying degree were meted out, but said it would be a "a reasonable conclusion to draw" that the expelled students had prior offenses or were on probation when they were linked to the computer thefts.
"There were a set of meetings with a group of students that occurred in the [Dean's Office with Dean for Student Affairs Arthur C.] Smith and myself. Out of those meetings came a set of recommendations to the president, and the president acted on those recommendations," Tewhey said. The meetings occurred in the first part of May, he added.
Tewhey said, "It was a serious matter, and it was dealt with seriously."
Fortunato, who has appealed the Dean's Office recommendation for expulsion, and Glotfelty did not return telephone calls made over the past week.
Fortunato, Moose and Glotfelty had paid full rent and were allowed to stay in the fraternity for the duration of the spring semester, Indeglia said. Moose said he may live in the house over the summer.
members as part of plan
In response to the thefts, the presence of stolen equipment in the fraternity house, and the subsequent expulsion from MIT of two fraternity members, Fiji's national organization has conducted a membership review, Baney said.
"While we recognize that . . . there were three men involved," Baney said, "we also recognize that the chapter has the responsibility to be their brothers' keeper and keep any eye out for things that might be happening."
As part of its "redevelopment plan," Baney said, the national organization interviewed every member and asked them to commit or decline to commit to a set of expectations, with the stipulation that none of the brothers would be involved in any thefts in the future.
According to Indeglia, every member of Fiji "recommitted themselves to the values [and] the oaths" made by members when they pledge and are later initiated into the fraternity. All were invited to continue to be a part of Fiji, he said.
Baney said the interviews -- during which each brother met with six or seven graduate members -- included questions about whether the undergraduate brother knew about the stolen equipment and, if so, why he did not act on that knowledge. Both Baney and Indeglia did not know how many brothers were aware of the stolen computers.
The interviews also focused on members' general attitude toward the fraternity, each member's commitment to the future of the fraternity and his record of past accomplishments both within the fraternity and at MIT, Baney said.
National provides chapter
with set of objectives, goals
In addition to the membership review interviews, the national required the chapter to comply with a set of objectives for reorganization. As a part of those requirements, the Board of Control, a group of MIT and non-MIT graduate members of the fraternity will provide "supervisory and disciplinary authority over the chapter," Baney said.
The chapter has also been required to develop a specific plan of action with objectives, deadlines and target dates on how its members are going to operate the chapter in the future, Baney said.
The chapter has already submitted a plan, which includes topics like "defeating apathy in the fraternity," retaining members' ideals, and restructuring the Fiji committee system, the pledge education program, a successful fall rush and "insuring that theft is not a part of the fraternity," Baney said.
The third objective requires that a director of redevelopment from the national will visit the chapter more frequently than the regular visits of Fiji national representatives. This director provides "more frequent attention to chapters we feel are in need of that attention," Baney said.
The national is conducting a search for a graduate education advisor, an MIT graduate student who would live in the fraternity house and work with fraternity members "on chapter operation, chapter management, [and] also on educational and leadership development." The national has not yet found a graduate student who is a member of Fiji for the position. "If that person is not there, it may be difficult to consider any alternative right now," Baney said.
The national is requiring the chapter to conduct a values and ethics seminar each year, with an MIT professor or area professor serving as facilitator. Each year, the national will seek verification from the chapter that members are holding a "solid, legitimate seminar" during which they can "really learn some things" from the facilitator, Baney said.
The chapter will hold a retreat next fall with at least 90 percent of the chapter in attendance along with national representatives; discussions will include the computer thefts but the group will focus on developing a calendar for the chapter.
Lastly, chapter representatives will make a presentation on the theft to a 600-person meeting, the Fiji leadership academy, in the fall, Baney said. The representatives' presentation will deal with the computer thefts.
Indeglia said, "as a chapter [we] are going to do everything we can to fulfill [the objectives]."
Indeglia said the feeling of members of the MIT chapter is, in general, "to move ahead. We have a lot of people willing to help out so that we can be a better fraternity than we already are."
(Editor's note: Joanna E. Stone contributed to the reporting of this story.)