The Boston Licensing Board's unanimous decision to suspend Phi Gamma Delta's dormitory license is a logical and natural one. After investigating the events and policies surrounding the alcohol-related death of Scott S. Krueger '01, the board concluded, with good reason, that both MIT and members of Fiji had acted inappropriately and should be sanctioned.
The suspension of the house's alcohol license - until beyond the time when the national Phi Gamma Delta has declared it will be alcohol-free - is also appropriate and will assure that similar incidents will not happen at Fiji in the future. Given Fiji's prior record, that is the only decision possible. The message from the licensing board is clear. The MIT administration, Fiji, and the fraternity system in general must exercise more control over fraternity activities. A weaker decision from the board would have set a dangerously poor precedent.
Commissioners rightly charged MIT with greater responsibility over the fraternity houses, rejecting MIT's age-old response of not doing any internal investigations until after the criminal and licensing investigations are complete. Given both the seriousness and immediacy of the situation, it would behoove MIT to learn from the board's decision and make provisions to investigate internally sooner.
Given the facts of the situation, MIT administrators might not have been able to prevent Fiji's eviction no matter what they said. Administrators should have participated more thoroughly and openly in the licensing board investigation, rather than shifting the blame and sticking to the party line. Indeed, administrators were at best misleading in their sworn testimony to the licensing board. Assistant Dean and Adviser to Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups Neal H. Dorow told the board that he was not aware of any illegal drinking that took place at fraternities. He had the gall to add that he didn't make it a point to be at fraternities when any such activity might be taking place and hence would have no knowledge of drinking that might occur there. Such statements are an embarrassment to MIT and serve only to point to the Institute's meager attempts at cooperating with the investigations. The board made the only choice it could, given the cooperation and information from MIT. It was necessary for them to shut down the house until enough guarantees are in place that similar incidents will never happen again.
The consequences of the board's decision for Fiji residents can hardly be described as horrific, as Interfraternity Council President Iddo Gilon '98 would paint it. Coming between the fall and spring terms, it is not a serious hardship for the students, nor for MIT. The housing system has shown a remarkable ability to handle greater and greater levels of crowding, and perhaps having to house some Fiji residents in the spring will awaken MIT to the potential problems of finding adequate housing for freshmen next fall.
It is unfortunate that the licensing board did not have access to the information from the criminal investigation when considering this case. However, it was entirely appropriate for the board to act when it did, already fully two months after Krueger's death, rather than further delay their decision until some indefinite date after the criminal investigation is complete. In addition, the board should continue its investigation and evaluation of dormitory licensing.
Thus far, nothing the Institute has done has spoken to the specific issue of fraternity drinking. Finally, this decision has.