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A Tale of Two Fraternities

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Phi Kappa Sigma fraternities met the same fate at the hands of the city of Boston this week: eviction. Circumstances revolving around their respective cases, however, could not be more different.

The Boston Licensing Board acted reasonably in revoking SAE’s dormitory license. After repeated violations and promises to reform, the intoxication of an underage Wellesley student at SAE was sufficient grounds for the license’s revocation. Tales of reckless behavior by members of SAE toward their Back Bay neighbors also justify the revocation of their license.

But the decision to temporarily evict PKS from their house after a hastily-arranged “random” inspection on Wednesday is extremely unfair. While PKS members acted unwisely in using explosive materials to promote a Halloween party, Tuesday’s incident was an accident and not a malicious attack. PKS members had only the best of intentions in promoting Skuffle, which raises funds for cancer research.

Building inspectors noted rodent and trash disposal problems, and improper storage of chemicals as reasons for shuttering PKS. While these are problems that demand swift action, all these infractions may be corrected quickly. PKS is surely not alone among Boston domiciles in having these problems, and temporary expulsion from the premises is an unnecessarily stiff punishment given that such problems can be easily solved.

Equally unfair to PKS has been the media, which descended in hordes on the MIT campus almost immediately after the explosion and wasted no time in sensationalizing the incident. The Boston Globe’s description of the PKS incident as adding to “a growing image of MIT as an out-of-control campus where reckless, rambunctious students put themselves and others in danger” is unjust, since it overlooks the true intentions of PKS -- raising funds for a worthy charity -- and completely mischaracterizes MIT as a whole. The media have been unnecessarily harsh and cruel in their treatment of a good and decent group of students.

While the actions against SAE were justified and necessary, the treatment of PKS once again opens old wounds for MIT’s FSILGs. PKS is only the latest victim of the hasty, overblown actions of Boston government and the local media.