The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 24.0°F | A Few Clouds

One SAE House Closed After Hearing on Drinking Incident

By Omar Zurkiya

In a meeting that lasted just fifteen minutes, the Boston Licensing Board yesterday revoked Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s dormitory license at 484 Beacon St. in Boston and ordered all occupants to move out by November 15.

The ruling could be the death knell for the embattled fraternity. “MIT does support the action of the Boston Licensing Board,” said Rosalind H. Williams, Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education. Without MIT’s assistance SAE is unlikely to succcessfully regain its liscence.

SAE’s failure to attend the hearing is “embarrassing to both the MIT administration and its students,” and that the fraternity has “shown no reason for MIT to reinstate its recognition,” Williams said.

MIT has already suspended SAE in response to an incident on Sept. 2, in which an underage Wellesley student was allegedly served alcohol at the house. During a follow-up investigation, the Boston Police additionally cited SAE for blocked stairways and failure to correctly post its dormitory license.

Second residence also investigated

In addition to discussing the cited violations, testimony at the BLB hearing held on Tuesday included complaints of disruptive behavior submitted by residents neighboring SAE, which has houses at both 480 and 484 Beacon St.

As a result, the board summoned SAE to a hearing on Nov. 16 regarding the house at 480 Beacon St., which holds a separate dormitory license.

“We are of course disappointed,” said Carl K. King, counsel for the Massachusetts Iota Tau Association, the corporation that owns both SAE buildings. “Our first priority now is to not revoke the license at 480 Beacon.”

We want the students to understand that “there are repercussions that come from their behavior,” said Daniel F. Pokaski, chairman of the licensing board. He also repeatedly expressed his disappointment at the “lack of response” shown by SAE members by not appearing at Tuesday’s hearing, and indicated that similar sanctions may occur for SAE’s second house if undergraduate students are not present on Nov. 16.

King said that while he does not represent the students of SAE, he did advise them against appearing on Tuesday since it is the corporation that technically holds the dormitory license. “We thought it would be a show of disrespect to bring undergraduates when we are not contesting that an incident took place.”

National, MIT plan investigation

King also represents an “involuntary alumni commission” comprised of members of the corporation and formed to conduct an investigation into the incident. On Sunday, the national SAE fraternity suspended all undergraduate members and placed all affairs of the MIT chapter under sole control of the alumni commission.

“We thought that we demonstrated that we were committed to addressing the concerns of the board,” King added.

MIT is currently conducting its own investigation and will convene a hearing panel “probably within one to two weeks,” said Betty H. Sultan, who heads the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

A head of investigation has been appointed and “if the charges are substantiated, they will be grounds for revoking MIT’s recognition of SAE,” Williams said.

The Interfraternity Council will conduct its own inquiry after the MIT investigation is complete, but is not currently active in the process. “We have relinquished control of the investigation to the Dean’s office,” said Michael V. Trupiano ’00, President of the IFC. “It is the policy of the IFC to support fraternities as much as possible.”

The SAE freshmen will move into campus housing so that upperclassmen can remain at 480 Beacon St, King said. That address is licensed to hold 30 residents. The license at 484 Beacon was for 24 students, but also contained the kitchen facilities, which will now have to be shut down.

After the board’s decision, King said that “we will be here on the 16th with the students to address neighbors’ concerns.”

Williams said that MIT “will work with the fraternity to determine a response for the Nov. 16 hearing.”

SAE President Christopher J. Albrecht ’00 could not be reached for comment.

MIT unlikely to assist with license

As part of its decision, the board stipulated that a full hearing must be conducted with the permission of the board before the license for 484 Beacon can be reinstated. They also said that such a request would not be granted before the end of this academic year.

Commissioner Michael J. Connolly indicated that the “Institute may take responsibility” for SAE, raising the possibility of reinstating the license after Nov. 15.

MIT is unlikely to take such action at this time, Williams said.

Currently, all undergraduate members of SAE are under suspension by their national fraternity. According to a statement released by council representing the corporation, members must reinstated individually.

The alumni commission will vote on each person to determine if he is “worthy of continued membership in the fraternity.” No one responsible for the incident, and “no house officer found to have condoned the availability of alcohol within the fraternity house, will be reinstated.”