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Evicted Students Return to House

Phi Kappa Sigma Moves Back with Boston, MIT Administration’s Support

By Matthew F. Palmer and Rima Arnaout

The brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma moved back into their fraternity house Friday evening, having repaired the problems that caused the Boston Inspectional Services Department to evict them last week.

When “we corrected all the problems that [Boston Inspectional Services] cited us for, we called up to ask for another inspection and they said ‘ok,’” said PKS House Manager Robert H. Lee ’02.

“We got a permit to disassemble the tunnel on Friday morning and hired a licensed builder to take it apart on Friday. We were inspected and back in the house by seven,” said PKS President Lanny R. Chiu ’00.

The MIT administration apparently helped smooth out the plight of PKS with City Hall. “We worked to ensure that PKS would receive a permit to be able to do the demolition necessary to return to their home,” Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 said.

“I was really impressed with the inspectors and officials; they worked really hard to get us back in the house quickly,” Chiu said.

In addition to the rodent and egress violations, PKS was fined $50 because the skull emblem carved in the concrete in front of their house, apparently for illegal use of sidewalk. Although they did not have to remove it, “we were fined for it, as was everybody else on the block,” Lee said.

The emblem has been in the sidewalk for years.“It’s been here ever since I’ve been here ... I assume it’s been here a long time,” Chiu said.

Light shed on nature of violations

It is necessary to hire a licensed contractor to build a structure or take it down. PKS did not obtain such a license for their haunted house.

The police searched PKS on Wednesday, just prior to the Inspectional Services visit. “The police found some turpentine and we had some more flash paper, which we handed over. The turpentine, they said, could be used to make something explosive,” Chiu said.

In addition, “we had to get rid of some paint and aerosol cans; it turns out it’s illegal to store them in your house in Boston,” Chiu said.

The timing of the police and inspectional search of PKS is still unclear. “I have no idea why they decided to search our house at that point,” Chiu said.

PKS, MIT promise to cancel party

Boston officials also asked MIT for “a letter guaranteeing that the [PKS] party would not take place as planned,” Bacow said. Boston wanted to be sure that the canceled Skuffle party wouldn’t be held if PKS were able to move back in to their house early in the weekend. PKS’s Halloween party and charity event Skuffle was scheduled for this weekend.

PKS is awaiting a hearing in the Cambridge District Court November 12 for three brothers and one alumnus. The hearing would determine if the four should be indicted for misdemeanor charges.

According to an MIT press release, those charges could include illegal possession and use of fireworks and disturbing the peace in connection with last Tuesday’s accidental explosion which injured three people and caused Cambridge police to evacuate Building 10.

The Executive Committee of the Interfraternity Council met last Thursday to discuss the PKS incident, but IFC President Michael V. Trupiano ’00 said they “did not issue a report because it was not a house related matter.”

PKS brothers were evicted Wednesday from their house on 530 Beacon Street for “rodent violations, egress issues and illegal construction,” according to an MIT press release. The students stayed in other fraternities as repairs were made to their house. The ISD investigation followed a police search of the house for explosives.

Last Tuesday, three members of PKS were injured when the device that one brother was carrying accidentally exploded. He was advertising for PKS’s Skuffle party. All weekend fraternity parties were canceled following conversations that the IFC had with fraternity presidents, fearing the events could lead to bad publicity and the closing of other fraternities.