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Alcohol Banned from Delts' House; Licensing Board Acts on Complaints

Indranath Neogy--The Tech
As a result of the charges made against Delta Tau Delta, the fraternity will no longer be able to serve alcohol on its premises for one entire year.

By Shang-Lin Chuang
news editor

As a result of sanctions from the Boston Licensing Board, Delta Tau Delta may not have any alcohol at their house for one year.

The conditions, handed down in a Nov. 2 ruling, stem from neighbors' complaints of excessive noise late at night, making it the third time the board has handled noise complaints against DTD.

The Licensing Board, which is in charge of issuing housing licenses to residents of the Back Bay, where the fraternity resides, decided not to revoke DTD's license and take the fraternity's house away, said DTD Community Relations Chairman Joshua L. Rosebrook '97.

"The board thought that taking the house away would be too severe of an action for such a simple complaint," Rosebrook said.

In the event that alcohol is found on the premises before Oct. 15, 1996, DTD would face a disciplinary hearing. DTDmust also make sure to contain all noise within the the premises of its house and must submit a list of names and contact numbers of its members to neighbors.

Parties kept neighbors awake

The latest incident began when Jessica Ranciato, a neighbor living across the street from DTD, wrote a letter to voice her concerns and complaints about the fraternity.

The letter was sent to two Institute officials: President Charles M. Vest and Assistant Dean for Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups Neal H. Dorow. Copies of the letter were also mailed to State Representative Paul C. Demakis (D-Mass.), the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay Representative Nancy Nottonson, and Secretary of the Licensing Board Patricia Malone.

Ranciato and her sister Jennifer said they were disturbed by the noise level of the DTD party that took place on Sept. 29, according to the letter. Jennifer Ranciato expressed her concern to Keith E. Whalen '96, president of DTD, at 11 p.m. on the night of the party.

"Mr. Whalen assured Jennifer that the request would be granted and stated that he would have a member of his fraternity posted outside of the house to monitor the noise level," according to the letter.

Unable to sleep because of the noise, Jessica Ranciato phoned the Boston Police Department on three occasions. The next morning, Jennifer and Jessica Ranciato stopped by the fraternity to speak with Whalen, who "exhibited a condescending and patronizing attitude," according to the letter.

"The complaint was over-dramatized," Rosebrook said. "The three police cruisers that came found no reason to be there, left immediately, and did not even filed a police report."

As a result of the dispute, both DTD and the Ranciatos solicited neighbors' opinions through petitions that were presented before the Licensing Board.

"We had a good report from the neighbors," said Geoff B. Johnson '97, vice president of DTD. "Except for a few neighbors in particular, there were no problems with us."

"When we went around the neighborhood, we were told about the fraternity's petition," Jessica Ranciato said. "People told us that they weren't informed and they didn't know what they were signing."

"There has always been excessive noise late at night, especially on weekends," said Edith Blake, a neighbor next door to the fraternity. "Noise up until four or five in the morning has almost been standard on weekend nights."

"Dorow had tried to contact us by calling," Ranciato said. "We thought it was better handle by the Licensing Board," she said.

"I take exception with Dorow's wheeling and dealing and backroom politics," Ranciato said. Many residents of the Back Bay "are deeply concerned about quality of life issues and certainly should not have to deal with MIT administration officials trying to pander to their elected officials. I find Mr. Dorow's behavior highly suspect and inappropriate," she said.

Bruce T. MacDonald, the fraternity's lawyer, could not be reached for a comment.

Dorow refused to comment.

DTD parties will not change much

In his letter, Whalen indicated that the fraternity, in order to show its concern over its neighbors complaints, will try new ways of keeping down the level of noise at its parties.

"From now on, when our fraternity entertains guests, we will only have small invite parties where no more than 80 people will be in the residence at a given time," according to Whalen's letter. "These activities will end no later than midnight on any given weekend. This action is not a temporary plan. The chapter has made this a permament [sic] commitement [sic]," the letter said.

But in an interview yesterday, Whalen said that the fraternity is not planning to change the way it conducts its parties and does not feel bound by the letter Whalen wrote.

"There is nothing that will be changed as we see right now," Whalen said. "That letter was written as an immediate response to the complaint to prevent the Licensing Board from taking any action against us. It has no meaning and may not be true. We can go back to what we used to do," he said.

"I am not surprised about their change of attitude," Jennifer Ranciato said in response to Whalen's comment. "It is humorous that they would think that they can get away with it now that a lot of the neighbors will be watching."

Noise a continuous problem

The first time the Licensing Board dealt with DTD was last year during Residence and Orientation Week. The second incident occurred over the summer and involved a graduation party with the fraternity's seniors, Rosebrook said. "A probation was issued in conjunction with MIT that said we couldn't have parties until Sept. 17, with some rush exceptions."

The Licensing Board also sent a letter stating that "any future complaints received will result in suspension of the license. Additionally, a condition requiring that there be an adult supervisor on the premises at all times will be imposed."

"Politically the Licensing Board did not want to take that step to kick out 40 MIT students whose parents will without a doubt be angry," she said.

"We are happy that they didn't suspend our license," Whalen said. "We are going to have a little better communication with our neighbors," he said. DTD plans to notify its neighbors "more extensively about events and schedules so they are more aware of what we are doing," he said.

"I honestly did not want to see members of Delta Tau Delta evicted from their house. I am satisfied with the Licensing Board's decision and hope that it will give members of Delta Tau Delta some time to reflect on what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in a residential area," Ranciato said.

"I don't think it is the final end to the problem," Blake said. "The attitude of the housing board has been getting harder. But I find it hard to believe that they will have no alcohol at the parties," she said.