IFC Convicts Six FraternitiesBy Sarah Y. Keightley
This year, the Interfraternity Council Judicial Committee is taking an active role in prosecuting community relations violations. Since last summer there have been community relations convictions against six fraternities, according to IFC JudComm Chair Daniel J. Dunn '94.
These charges range from noise disturbances to the incident in which members of Lambda Chi Alpha painted homophobic slurs in front of Tau Epsilon Phi. The convictions have led to community service hours and monetary fines.
The IFC community relations bylaws are meant to help fraternities stay in line with community standards, said Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean and adviser to fraternities, sororities, and living groups.
In the most recent conviction, Sigma Phi Epsilon was fined $400 on Feb. 22, for a second-time noise violation. This fine was the largest monetary community relations fine assessed this year. The conviction came after a neighbor complained on Jan. 26.
The fine was considered to be severe, as the usual punishment is community service, said Dunn. However, JudComm justified the fine because a previous noise complaint was filed by the same neighbor in November, Dunn said.
In addition to the fine, SigEp was placed on community relations probation. This means that a similar conviction could carry an even greater disciplinary measure.
Although SigEp President Eric G. Olson '95 said he was surprised by the fine, he added, "I think it's a good policy as long as it is controlled well, so as not to have noise complaints become weapons for the community."
Dunn believes that the fines do deter fraternities from breaking rules. JudComm tries to take disciplinary measures that undo the harm done and educate the members, he said. So the committee is "not only repairing harm, but keep [it] from occurring in the future," he said.
Six fraternities convicted
The other convictions include a variety of incidents.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was charged with a noise conviction in August and with a second conviction when someone threw a water balloon from the house, hitting a pedestrian who had just gotten a cast removed, breaking her arm again.
Each member had to do 15 hours of community service before the fraternity could serve alcohol at an event, according to the JudComm sentence given in November.
In addition, SAE will not be permitted to serve alcohol at events from the end of August through Oct. 1, in order to educate next year's SAE freshman.
SAE President Jonathan D. Gass '94 said he and his brothers initially thought the punishment was severe. Then they realized "it could have been much worse" and fulfilled the community service hours, he said.
Alpha Tau Omega was convicted after an incident last summer, where members threw something off of the ATO roof. ATO is on probation until September, and if a member throws something off of the roof before then, they will be denied access to their roof.
Moreover, the members of ATO had to formulate a policy with Kappa Sigma to not throw objects off of their roofs.
In a similar case, Delta Kappa Epsilon was placed on probation for throwing a paintball out of a house window this summer.
At the end of August, Beta Theta Pi served alcohol to a minor from Boston University who ended up at the hospital after consuming too much alcohol.
In October, this case went before the Boston Licensing Commission, which could have taken away BTP's lodging license. The commission agreed to have Dorow and the IFC JudComm set the sanction, which placed the fraternity on social probation until Mar. 31. During this time, BTP cannot serve alcohol at parties or co-sponsor parties where alcohol is served.
After the LCA-TEP incident last term, IFC JudComm imposed a sanction requiring LCA to conduct a homophobia awareness program on a campus-wide scale. As a result, LCA helped sponsor a lecture given yesterday evening.
Along with judging community relations violations and Rush violations, the IFC JudComm also considers party violations.
Sigma Chi has received the only conviction for a party violation this term. This charge came as a result of having used a direct reference to alcohol on posters advertising a SC party.
There are seven outstanding charges for unregistered parties that are in the process of being reviewed. Convictions on these charges carry a $50 fine to make fraternities abide by the rules, Dunn said.
MIT system unique
The fact that MIT fraternities regulate themselves is important, Dunn said.
Compared to other universities, the MIT IFC is unique in that it is self-regulating, Dunn said. Greek groups at other universities are not allowed to regulate themselves because their administrations do not trust them, and they have no basis of support to take disciplinary action.
Dorow said he is confident that IFC JudComm is capable and should handle these cases.
IFC's jurisdiction includes violations pertaining to Rush, parties, and community relations. IFC JudComm can also act on MIT policy, but this rarely comes up, Dunn said. The board used to only handle Rush violations, but now it is active year-round, he said.
In contrast to other schools, MIT's IFC JudComm could theoretically recommend to remove freshman housing status from a fraternity as a severe punishment, Dunn said. Even if the committee never does this, the fraternities listen to us, he said.
MIT's IFC has two separate boards, one for judicial review, and one for investigation. Most schools only have a judging board, according to Dunn. In addition, most schools keep violations confidential. But Dunn believes that the board can "be more effective if people know what we're doing."