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BTP, Boston Residents Discuss Living Together

By Alex Ianculescu
staff reporter

Residents of the Kenmore Square area met with residents and alumni of Beta Theta Pi to discuss the community's concerns about the fraternity.

The Sept. 14 meeting was held to fulfill part of the sentence handed down by the BostonLicensing Board on Aug. 19 after summer residents at the fraternity pelted Boston University police officers with cans and bottles.

Three neighborhood associations, as well as a number of Boston University administrators, were invited.

"The purpose of the meeting was to hear the concerns of the community regarding Beta Theta Pi and to work together to identify solutions and more effective means of communication," said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams in a letter to the board.

The participants included Victor Themo from the Bay State Road Civic Association, who felt the meeting was "very constructive and very informal." The participants at the meeting discussed ways to minimize any problems, Themo said.

"Everyone gave their pet peeves about the situation," Themo said. "Steps were taken to help improve the situation in fraternities and sororities in general."

BTP presents new proposals

BTP President Matthew S. Rechtin '99 introduced new plans of the residents. These "included the distribution of a flyer urging residents to call the house or MIT campus police directly in the event of a problem, and the implementation of a complaint log and response system that will be reviewed at weekly house meetings," Williams said.

"The meeting went really well," Rechtin said. "This was the first time we met face-to-face with the community." The major concerns raised were about trash and noise, he said.

"We encouraged the community to contact us directly about noise complaints."

Rechtin feels that the meeting helped improve the fraternity's relations with the Bay State Road community. "We plan to have further community meetings in the future, [semiannually] or twice a semester."

BTP had a good rush this year, despite this summer's incident. "We had ten guys pledge, and we always shoot for ten to twelve guys," Rechtin said.

"Concerns were raised about trash pick up, game-playing on the sidewalks, enhanced controls over summer boarders, music, and noise in the late evening, MIT police powers in Boston, and the overall need for improved communications," Williams said.

Themo, who lives near the fraternity, has come to "expect a certain amount of noise during rush," he said. "I really hope this particular incident was just a flash in the pan."

"The house is willing to take their medicine," he said. "We have no animosity. This was just a fluke, and it shouldn't even have happened.

Dorothea and James Ryan, two other Bay State Road residents who attended the meeting, also had favorable opinions about the meeting. "The exchanges were all positive," James Ryan said.

"We have lived here for more than 30 years," James Ryan said. "While this particular incident did not bother us directly, many other incidents in the past have bothered us. This was certainly not an isolated incident."

MIT simply cannot control off-campus activities, James Ryan said. "The campus is on one side of the river and most students live on the other."

The Ryan's strongly favored the Institute's decision to house all freshmen on campus. "We certainly don't like the idea of frat houses," James Ryan said. "It is certainly a good idea to house freshmen on-campus."

The board ruled that BTP will be alcohol-free for three years as the result of the July 17 incident when a BU police officer was injured attempting to avoid beer bottles and cans thrown off the roof.

The board also ruled that the fraternity will not house any non-fraternity residents next summer. If the house wishes to have summer boarders after 1999, it will have to submit a plan outlining how they will be supervised.

Police investigate Boston options

Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin recently met with the BU police to discuss issues of fraternity policing and police authority in Boston.

"According to the BU Police reports, there were 35 incidents concerning BTP," Glavin said. Only six of these were "serious" complaints. Seventeen complaints regarded noise or loud music, and 12 complaints were not connected to the fraternity.

"As a result of our review and deliberations, we have made a preliminary determination to seek police powers in Boston for the MIT Campus Police," Williams said in a letter to the licensing board, which required MITto report back to it on the potential for deputizing police.

"A final decision will be based on the completion of an ongoing implementation analysis of staffing and related logistics."

Currently, the CPs only have jurisdiction where MIT owns property and in Middlesex County, which includes Cambridge, Glavin said. Any further decisions related to MIT's policing of FSILGs will "hopefully go forward positively."

The BU police and MIT CPs have different strategies to crime prevention, Glavin said. "They are in a tougher area than we are. It does to some extent warrant a different policing style."

The BU police "are extremely angry at MIT and extremely angry at MIT FSILGs," Glavin said. As a result, they may report even minor incidents to the licensing board, she said.

Although the Campus Police currently have no jurisdiction in Suffolk County, they plan to operate in a "high-visibility mode" during the next month. Cruisers and bicycle-based police will be in the area of Boston fraternities as part of their patrols, she said.