The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 35.0°F | Overcast

COD Will Hear Trial Of PBE Racism Case

By Katherine Shim
News Editor

Charges of racial harassment filed by four black students against two members of Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity will be heard by the Committee on Discipline, said COD Chair Nelson Y. S. Kiang.

In the past few weeks the Campus Police conducted an investigation of a March 13 incident in which racial slurs were allegedly shouted from a PBE window at four black students, one of whom was a resident of Chocolate City. Former Associate Dean of Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey was to decide if the case was to be heard by the COD or by his office.

"The case has come to the COD, and we will handle it from here," said Nelson Y. S. Kiang.

"I've known that it was going to the COD for a while now, and hopefully the COD will handle the situation fairly," said Dale L. LeFebvre '93, a former president of Chocolate City and leader of a group that deals with racial harassment.

"I think that the truth will come out at the COD hearing, and I think that it will exonerate us," PBE President Andrew T. J. Luan '93 said.

"I also want to stress that PBE is not on trial here," Luan said. "Some individuals who are members of PBE are charged, and I think that they will be cleared."

The decision to send the case to the COD was made in the past two weeks, Kiang said. At that time, all students involved were notified by the COD that they would be given 10 working days to be prepared for a hearing, Kiang said.

"Right now we are in the process of of scheduling a hearing. We'll do it as quickly as possible, but it is going to be difficult. There is the problem of a large number of people trying to fit a meeting into their schedules," Kiang said.

Since the hearings of the COD are confidential, it will not provide the campus-wide forum on race issues that some students have called for. Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, issued a statement stressed the importance of confidentiality.

"It seems very important to me that the disposition of an accusation against an individual student should not be seen as the forum for discussing racism," Smith said. "Maintaining confidentiality about such a case does not prevent the community from entering into a serious attempt to reduce racism on our campus," he said.

"I'm more interested in the end result rather than the forum in which this is discussed," LeFebvre said. "By the fact that it is going to the COD, I hope it will set a precedent for how these issues will be handled."

"The Dean's Office tends to be touchy-feely about these types of issues," LeFebvre added. He noted that the Dean's Office is fairly autonomous and that the COD could handle the case in a more formal way. "But whatever the COD decides, the enforcement will come from the Dean's Office," he continued.

"The job of the COD is to hear what the charges are and to hear what everybody has to say," Kiang said. "This case will be handled as an issue of two students who are being accused of something. ... We are not concerned with the larger issue on campus. We are not making policy."