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Permit Enforcement Cancels Parties

Several Events at Fraternities Cancelled or Postponed after Boston University Complaint Leads to New Enforcement of Assembly Permit Regulations by BPD

By David S. Bailey

Over the past two weekends, at least four MIT fraternities have had parties postponed or shut down due to Boston Police Department’s new demand for MIT fraternities, sororities and independent living groups to obtain an assembly permit before hosting large events.

According to Delta Tau Delta Social Chair Damien A. Brosnan ’01, DTD, planned a party for the night of Friday, September 10 but were unaware of the new restrictions. Boston Police arrived prior to the start of the party to notify DTD that they would not be allowed to host a party without the permit, Brosnan said.

During the weekend of September 17, though some houses were able to conduct parties unhindered, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Nu opted to postpone parties that had been planned for Friday night.

On Saturday night, Boston Police shut down a party at Delta Upsilon due to lack of assembly permit.

“The steps we’ve taken didn’t come into place because the hurricane caused mail delays,” DU President Andres T. Hernandez ’00 said, regarding DU’s efforts to obtain the appropriate permit. “It’s better to have fire safety than not... but it’s definitely not convenient. It changes the way parties can be run.”

According to Assistant Dean Neal Dorow, obtaining the assembly permit requires submitting floorplans to the Boston Inspectional Services to obtain an assembly occupancy number, and then submitting floor plans and occupancy number to the Boston Fire Department.

“BPD came to the DU party for reasons unknown to me and shut it down because they exceeded their listed occupancy of 42 persons,” Dorow said.

In previous years, BPD has not asked that MIT FSILGs have assembly occupancy permits to conduct large events.

The city of Boston first became concerned when Boston University officials filed a complaint with the BPD that MIT fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi postered for a small social event in public areas near their house at 155 Bay State Rd.

The BPD issued AEPi a license premise violation and charged them for unlicensed entertainment, flyers posted on public property, and advertising an event open to the public.

“At this point, MIT approached the city of Boston wanting to talk about the big picture concerning all 25 ILGs in Boston,” Dorow said. The Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing agreed to discuss, and the AEPi situation was not further pursued by the BPD.

After MIT informed the city of Boston of the nature of various types of events at FSILGs, the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing wanted to require large events to be registered with the city, but backed down when MIT offered to share party registration information collected by the MIT Campus Police with the BPD.

An agreement between the city and MIT was only reached in mid-August, at which point Dorow notified Boston FSILGs of the requirements they would have to meet. However, Dorow was unable to provide instructions until Tuesday, September 7, three days before the first Friday night of the term when several fraternities had registered with the Interfraternity Council to have parties, and the night DTD’s party was shut down.

Inspectional Services was unable to process the volume of assembly occupancy requests in time for the weekend of September 17, and suggested that MIT grant FSILGs leniency for another week.

The Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, however, would not agree to grant houses a grace period to obtain an Assembly Permit.

Mike Hall contributed to the reporting of this article.