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Skuffle License Not Approved by Boston

Skullhouse’s Event for Saturday Cancelled

By Brian Loux


The Boston Inspectional Services Department cancelled Phi Kappa Sigma’s annual charity “Skuffle” event, scheduled to be held Saturday night, on account of failure to obtain an entertainment license from the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing.

Phi Kappa Sigma, also known as Skullhouse, planned to develop a haunted house to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the national charity of the fraternity.

“In order to build a haunted house, you need a building license,” said Skullhouse member Matthew J. Frank ’03, one of the brothers in charge of planning the event. Frank cited the fire and police departments of Boston as two of the offices that had to approve the event beforehand.

The final piece to the puzzle was an entertainment license, to be issued by the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. “If you are charging admission, that makes it a public event, which gives it the need for a license from the [Mayor’s Office],” said Daniel F. Pokaski, chairman of the Boston Licensing Board.

Frank described the office as “dragging their feet” and “stringing us along.” Skullhouse did not receive the license, though Frank said they had been led to believe they would receive approval.

“We’ve been spending months trying to get this done. ... We started this back in May,” Frank said.

Mayor’s Office rejects license

On Thursday, the Mayor’s Office rejected the request for a license for unknown reasons. Brothers who were involved with obtaining the license had heard from officials within the office that they were concerned the event would cause a noise disturbance within the community.

Frank dismissed the charge, saying, “we are surrounded by five other fraternities and a [Boston University] dorm. Furthermore ... we obtained signatures from our neighbors that said they approved of our event.”

However, according to Frank, the Mayor’s office “did not tell us this first. They called ISD to say that we were rejected. ... Inspectors entered the house, guns blazing, and they said we had three hours to take everything down. They threatened us heavily.”

Deconstruction included the framework of the haunted house in the basement and a large skull to be placed above the door during the party.

Frank said that it was this action that was the most upsetting to the house. Not only were “we told no, we were told it in a very harsh way,” he said. “If you tell us no, tell us no.”

Director of Consumer Affairs and Licensing Patricia Malone, Esq. could not be reached for comment.

On Thursday night, an ISD squad car was parked outside Skullhouse monitoring the activity inside. The unidentified officer said he was “just watching the property” and asked that other questions be directed to the licensing office.

Skuffle supported by MIT officials

The event was heavily supported by MIT and the community. Frank said Weekends@MIT gave $700, the Class of 1997 Students Promoting an Improved Campus Experience (SPICE) fund gave $1,000, and $600 was donated by community businesses, in addition to personal checks.

Frank said, Skullhouse itself spent upwards of $2,000 on the event.

“MIT administrators were very helpful in supporting us,” Frank said. “[Frank S. Council] of the Student Life Office was a great help and John Haas from MIT design and construction came to inspect our haunted house. We had all of their backing and that of the MIT Police.”

MIT officials were unavailable for comment.

Frat disappointed with decision

President Andres A. Tamez ’04 said the house was disappointed to hear about the cancellation. “Despite our best efforts to cooperate with Boston, we were unable to put on this event,” he said.

Tamez said there were no plans to host another event this weekend. “It is very hard to do on the fly,” he said. He mentioned that the house will try to stage a charity event sometime in the future. “We have a lot of support from the MIT community.”

In October 1999, during an attempt to advertise the annual party in 10-250, an accidental explosion caused Building 10 to shutdown for the rest of the day as the Cambridge Bomb Squad and Fire Departments investigated the incident. Three of the brothers were fined and sentenced to eight hours of community service each.

Reacting to the event, Boston’s ISD searched the house and closed it because of building code violations, forcing the cancellation of the event.

Nonetheless, the house donated $14,267 of raised money to the Leukemia Society of America.