The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 32.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Investigation of PBE Incident Underway

By Eric Richard
Associate News Editor

An investigation is underway to verify allegations made by four black students that racial slurs were shouted at them from the window of Phi Beta Epsilon on the morning of Saturday, March 13, according to James R. Tewhey, associate dean for student affairs.

The administration has not decided who will ultimately be responsible for the investigation or for possible disciplinary action. "There should be a decision by the end of this week about where we are going to with this," Tewhey said. "There will be a decision as to whether there will be a hearing in the Dean's Office or whether it should be referred to the [Committee on Discipline] or how else to deal with the situation."

The Campus Police conducted an investigation of the incident and submitted a report to Tewhey last week, according to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin. Tewhey has continued with his own investigation since then.

One official complaint has been filed with the Campus Police and two other people have come in following up on the complaint, Tewhey said. Although Glavin refused to name the student who filed the complaint, Kamilah Alexander '96, one of the four students who claim they were harassed, said that charges were filed by Kobie S. Burrell '96.

Alexander said she did not file a complaint because she "didn't really see why it was necessary for more than one person to file charges about the same thing."

More charges leveled at PBE

Immediately after the incident, residents of Chocolate City staged a protest outside PBE and hung posters that promulgated the harassment charge. Several days later CC residents advanced a new allegation -- that "people in PBE" shouted sexual slurs at a woman during a separate incident on March 13. However, Glavin said that no complaints have been filed with the Campus Police about sexual harassment.

Tewhey said he had spoken with the person he believes the poster referred to. He added that she will not file charges because she does not feel that she was threatened or harassed.

Andrew T. J. Luan '93, president of PBE, said that nobody has talked to PBE about allegations of sexual harassment.

"We are cooperating with the investigation," Luan said. "We are hoping for a just investigation, and just due process. I want the truth to be exposed. There seems to be two different truths. We have witnesses that say they did not hear anything."

Irving M. Birmingham '96, chairperson on Task Force on Campus Racism -- a committee set up about four months ago by members of Chocolate City to document incidents of racism on campus -- explained that the sexual harassment charge was made because, "Until that point we had not heard that other incidents had occurred. It made us think that this could be a much broader problem. We also hoped that in case other people had been similarly harassed, that they could come forward."

The Task Force was set up by members of Chocolate City about four months ago to document incidents of racism on campus. "We are sick of having this type of incident going on. We think that for us to have a proper environment to learn, these types of activities can not continue," Birmingham said.

Birmingham said that although Tewhey had given him little idea of how quickly the investigation would proceed, he would like to see a resolution as soon as possible.

CC, PBE held discussion

"We have held one discussion with PBE" since the incident, Birmingham said. "But we have decided to let the administration handle it directly. We both feel that it is best to let the administration deal with it."

The meeting with PBE did not deal with specific incidents or allegations. "We were not talking about the incident specifically," Luan said. "Basically it was just for us to start communicating."

However, Burrell said that the members of PBE have never talked to him or the others involved personally.

Luan said he had left a message for Burrell but his call was never returned. He added that he did not call anyone else because "it doesn't seem like they want to talk."

In a related incident, Birmingham claimed that someone removed the original CC posters and replaced them with slightly modified versions. The new signs referred to the on-going investigation as a "witch hunt" and asked members of the community to "take a stand against racial and sexual harassment and fraternities."Birmingham said that although the perpetrators are unknown, a complaint was filed with the Campus Police.