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Licensing Board Bans Alcohol from BTP

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Editor In Chief

The Boston Licensing Board banned alcohol at Beta Theta Pi until 2001 last week as punishment for a July incident at the house.

In addition to the alcohol ban, the board ordered the house's roof deck dismantled. It also banned the fraternity from housing summer residents next year.

The punishment came after Boston University police officers were allegedly pummeled with full beer bottles and cans by partyers when patrolling in the area around the fraternity, located at 119 Bay State Road in Boston.

One BUpolice officer, James Barry, was injured severely by broken glass and required surgery for a ruptured disk in his neck. Barry has not yet returned to the force and may not because of his injuries, said BUspokesperson Kevin Carleton.

James B. Williams '99, a brother in BTP, was charged for serving the two kegs used at the event to minors. James Williams will be arraigned inRoxbury District Court on Sept. 2.

Fraternity denies responsibility

Members of the fraternity have stated that those at the party were all summer boarders and the boarders' friends.

"What we really have on our hands is a free-for-all where you have people throwing bottles and cans at police officers and you have fraternity members claiming that they were not involved,"said Ellen E. Rooney, chair of the board. "That's bizarre."

Two of the members of the board drew a distinction between the events at Beta and the events that led up to the death of Scott S. Krueger '01 at Phi Gamma Delta last fall.

"The death of Krueger occurred as part of a sanctioned fraternity function"said Commissioner DanielF. Pokaski, while the BTP incident was not sanctioned by the fraternity, he said.

The third licensing board member, JosephMulligan, said MITwas "just not getting it"and voted to revoke the license of the fraternity.

Boston University urges closure

BU officials urged the board to close BTP as they presented twenty-five previous incidents at the house that had been reported to BU's police department.

"This fraternity house has been a constant threat to the neighborhood,"said BU Deputy Chief of Police Enric Cappucci.

In 1994, an underage female had to be taken into protective custody from the fraternity house after she became overly intoxicated, said BU Assistant Council Robert Smith.

BUofficials said that they regularly patrolled the fraternities near BU on Bay State Road because many of the residents believe the fraternities are on BUproperty.

BUofficials testified before the board that they had repeatedly contacted MITofficials about problems at BTP but had been rebuffed. "Clearly, as of this date, they just don't get it,"said BUVice President Richard Towle.

If a similar incident had occurred at BU, the fraternity would have been immediately expelled, Carleton said.

The board was extremely lenient in its decision, Carleton said. "The revocation of a liquor license at a premises where the majority of students are [underage] isn't even a slap on the wrist."

As a result, the message the board was giving is, "You can't kill a student but it's OK to maim a police officer,'" he added.

Board members expressed concern that the previous problems at the fraternity had not been reported. "I can see that BUwould not want to play the snitch on this,"Pokaski said, but the board could have used the information.

As a result of the decision,BUpolice will report to the licensing board all violations, like noise complaints, that the Boston Police would usually report to the board, Cappucci said.

Policing of fraternities urged

Besides generally chastising the fraternity for its actions during the unsanctioned event, the board also criticized the MITPolice for not gaining police privileges within the area.

"They have all these fraternities and they have no jurisdiction?" asked Mulligan. "I suppose it's nice to say Oh, we have no jurisdiction.'"

As part of its sanction of BTP, the board required MITto report back to it by mid-September about the status of obtaining deputy privileges within Suffolk County, which would allow the MITPolice to have the same privileges as the Boston Police and theBUPolice in the cities of Boston and Brookline.

At a meeting of Interfraternity Council presidents Monday night, Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin said that while the decision to obtain Suffolk County police powers was not yet final, the Institute was leaning towards working to obtain them.

"Iwould prefer that [the BUPolice] let us take care of our own business,"Glavin said. "The BUpolice are far more aggressive in their practices."

"There has been a lack of clarity between the Boston Police,BUPolice, and MITPolice"on who should respond to calls in the Bay State Road area, said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams.

MIT searches for perpetrators

The MIT administration is currently seeking the individuals responsible for throwing the bottles and cans that injured the police officer, Rosalind Williams said.

Although the criminal prosecution of James Williams has not concluded, the Institute has been investigating the incident itself. In previous incidents, the Dean's Office refrained from all investigations until after the end of the criminal proceedings.

The difference with this event was there was "no clear indication the fraternity was involved as a fraternity,"Rosalind Williams said.

The IFC has been considering electing an official to oversee summer managers as well as to examine setting a proper ratio of members to guests, Rosalind Williams said. At BTP, only seven brothers supervised about 40 summer boarders.

"I think the measures the IFC have proposed address the issue directly,"Rosalind Williams said.

The suspension of the fraternity has been lifted and the house will be allowed to rush, said Dean for StudentLife Margaret R. Bates. "It didn't make sense to make a rush punishment for a non-rush issue."

Earlier this month, the IFCfined BTP $1,000 for the incident and mandated that the house be alcohol-free for one year. The punishment also required that 90 percent of the members and pledges perform 30 hours of community service by December 19.

The IFCpunishment also required that the fraternity's summer residents be composed of at least one-third fraternity members next summer, an act that was superceded by the licensing board's decision to close the house to non-members next summer.