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Fraternites Settle after TEP House, Smoots Vandalized

By Eva Moy
News Editor

The members of Tau Epsilon Phi awoke Friday morning to find their house vandalized by several members of Lambda Chi Alpha. LCA has issued an apology, and the two fraternities are currently discussing reparations.

"The Tau Epsilon Phi president and I are very close to forging an agreement between the two parties which will amend the situation and prevent it from happening in the future," said LCA President Neelesh H. Mehendale '94.

TEP Chancellor Kamal P. Nigam '94 described the events of last Friday: "Intruders forced their way into TEP, damaging the frame of the basement door. In the house's first-floor kitchen, they splattered a noxious, rotting food substance that induced a gag reflex in many brothers. Further acts included deflating the tires of cars in the back lot, minor theft, and leaving a bag of insects in the sink.

"The perpetrators also left a 22-by-5-foot message on the sidewalk in front of TEP stating, `TO TEP ' 33 NERDS + 1 QUEER.' This parallels the traditional marking on the Harvard Bridge: `TO MIT ' 364.4 SMOOTS + 1 EAR.' "

The conflict began when several members of TEP painted over the Smoot marks on the Harvard Bridge on Oct. 19, Nigam said. "With purple paint, they added smiley faces to the `O's, polka dots to the letters, and several inane references to the number 22. About 10 members of LCA ... confronted the TEP's on the bridge and `escorted' them back to TEP," Nigam continued.

Mehendale said that when he asked TEP to clean the bridge, "[Nigam] said that he would try to get people to get out to clean up the bridge that night."

Mehendale repeated his request on Oct. 20, but "TEP responded with no actions of consequence and heard no further from either LCA or the police," Nigam said.

Although the Smoot marks still have not been restored, LCA decided it was "not big enough a deal to go to the police," Mehendale said.

"We feel that because of the obvious parallels between the vandalism on our sidewalk and the Smoot marks, the crimes committed were somehow related to the bridge hack. We are outraged that people violated the sanctity of our home and committee a felony in response to a good-natured hack on public property."

Mehendale said, "I would view this as a direct result of that [hack], but not necessarily of that one time," as the Smoots have been vandalized before. LCA has the sole responsibility to by the city of Boston for re-painting the Smoot markings each year, according to Mehendale.

Reparations being discussed

Mehendale apologized for the incident in a statement released saying, "Lambda Chi Alpha does not condone the use of malicious vandalism as a means of retribution. The acts carried out against Tau Epsilon Phi were carried out by a few individuals and not as a house. These individuals sincerely apologize for their actions and any grief that their actions may have cause the members of Tau Epsilon Phi and the MIT community."

"Basically it looks like we're going to resolve it without having any formal charges pressed," Nigam said. "We feel that this was a good natured hack. We also understand that the Lambda Chi Alphas take the Smoot marks very seriously."

The two parties are still working on the details of the agreement and expect to be done by Thursday, Nigam said. Most of the discussion concerns monetary retribution, both for the damage and labor for cleaning TEP's house -- which Nigam estimates at $800 -- and for the re-painting of the Smoots.

Both presidents met with Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean for fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, yesterday afternoon. "The presidents of both fraternities have met and appear to be working toward an agreement and resolution that may not require any further action on the part of the [Interfraternity Council] or the Dean's Office regarding this," Dorow said.

"Both instances were on an individual level," Mehendale said. "I do think that it's unfair that both houses have had to take responsibility for the actions of a few individuals, but I think that both houses were willing to do so."

Mehendale continued, "I can't personally comment on what the individuals had in mind," but he feels that LCA has been unfairly portrayed as a homophobic house, referring to the message "TO TEP ' 33 NERDS + 1 QUEER."

"TEP is proud that all 34 members of their house are nerds, regardless of their sexual orientation," Nigam said.