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MIT Withdraws Support for Fiji; House Will Not Re-Open This Fall

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Editor In Chief

Members of Phi Gamma Delta will not be moving back into their house at 28 The Fenway this fall after MIT withdrew its support for the fraternity's dormitory license.

"We still do not know what occurred on the evening that led to Scott Krueger's death," because of the length of the grand jury investigation into his death from alcohol poisoning last September, said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams in a letter addressed to Roderic P. Taft '74, a member of Fiji's alumni corporation.

MIT, in keeping with its standing practice, has deferred any investigation into the death of Krueger '01, and as such cannot determine whether to support Fiji before the Boston Licensing Board, Williams said.

Fiji will not automatically receive its license back when its seven-month suspension ends August 15, said Boston Licensing Board Commissioner Ellen E. Rooney, who chairs the board.

Instead, if the Malcolm Cotton Brown Corporation, the alumni group that owns the house, wanted to renew its license, it would have to file a formal application and attend a hearing. The board would take past actions and MIT's support of the fraternity into account when reviewing the matter, Rooney said.

"We understand that the consequence of our decision is that [the board] is unlikely to return the dormitory license to the fraternity,"Williams said.

As a result of MIT's decision, alumni officials decided not to apply for a dormitory license to house undergraduates during the 1998-99 academic year, Taft said. "At this time, it appears that there will not be an active Fiji chapter"next year.

Institute unable to decide support

The decision not to support Fiji before the licensing board came "fairly recently," said Associate Dean for Residence Life and Student Life Programs Andrew M. Eisenmann '70.

"We didn't have the information to act in support or in a negative way"before the board, which had indicated that MIT would have to take an "active and supportive stance" for renewal to take place, Eisenmann said.

The action not to support Fiji, then, should "not necessarily [be] interpreted as a positive or negative message,"he said.

Concerns over the potential closing of the house when the grand jury finishes its investigation also prompted the decision, Williams said in her letter. The house could be "closed to residents again, whether temporarily or permanently"depending on the decision.

Fiji remains under suspension until MIThas a chance to conduct its own investigation into the events surrounding Krueger's death, Eisenmann said.

Assistant Dean for RLSLP Neal H. Dorow, who serves as adviser to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, declined to comment.

Graduate students may move in

In the letter announcing the Institute's decision, Williams also noted that MIT is willing to work with Malcolm Cotton Brown in order to maintain the group's financial stability. In particular, "we would be willing to explore the possibility of making the house available to graduate MIT students or others who are not MIT undergraduates in order to provide income to meet operating and other expenses,"Williams said.

The alumni corporation is considering the Institute's offer, Taft said. The alumni group would also have to apply to the Licensing Board for a dormitory license in order to house graduate students, he added.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts prohibits housing more than three unrelated individuals in a residence without a dormitory license. Presently, three Fiji members are residing in the dormitory to maintain its condition, according to licensing board documents.

Brett Altschul, Susan Buchman, Frank Dabek and Zareena Hussain contributed to this story.