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TDC Must Educate Fellow Houses

By Beckett W. Sterner


The Theta Delta Chi fraternity must do “something creative” to change fellow fraternities’ attitudes toward alcohol and the police, or face a 14-day suspension from their house during their rush period next fall.

“It’s going to have to be something big,” said Cambridge License Commission Chair Benjamin C. Barnes. “It’s going to have to make a splash.”

The sanction is a response to an incident at TDC this summer involving alcohol, objects being thrown from the roofdeck, and party attendees taunting and swearing at the police.

Barnes said he was concerned about the “cops be damned” attitude he felt was becoming more prevalent at MIT fraternities. He said TDC should “tell the story [of the unfortunate incident] throughout the MIT community,” and that the project “should be something creative.”

Robert P. Schreiber ’75, a member of TDC’s alumni corporation, said he thought the sanction was fair.

TDC alcohol-free for a year

The CLC’s decision on Sept. 27 came after several major changes imposed by the fraternity’s alumni corporation, which owns the house, and the fraternity itself, including going alcohol-free for the remainder of the academic year and suspending a brother from the fraternity for at least one semester.

TDC President Daniel M. Halperin ’04 said at the decision hearing Sept. 27 that the fraternity members had agreed to make the house “alcohol-free” for the academic year and to make the roof deck alcohol-free for the summer as well.

In addition, Halperin said the fraternity and alumni corporation had joined the Campus Alcohol Advisory Board, a group focused on promoting responsible drinking habits.

“Our goal is to go in and figure out how it works and spearhead a project,” he said.

Barnes further required that no “event,” or party of any kind, be held on the roofdeck until TDC is again reviewed by the CLC.

The CLC will review the fraternity’s efforts in six months and then decide whether to impose sanctions or take further steps.

Summer management found lax

Halperin and Schreiber said the summer incident could be traced to poor summer management of the house.

“The management issue during the summer was pretty severe,” Halperin said.

He said that “the most important steps are that the summer officers are going to be more plentiful and more responsible” next year. He also said that next summer house officers would meet every two weeks with members of the alumni corporation.

Alumni corporation member Schreiber said the “face of the house changes” during the summer. Non-member summer residents make up one half to two thirds of the population of the house, and these are “generally very young people.”

He said these summer boarders were a “major income source,” but that the alumni were trying to raise funds to eliminate the need for summer boarders.

In the future, TDC will “interview [potential summer residents] in a more selective way,” he said.

Alumni action preempts TDC

One major action taken by the alumni corporation was to ban TDC member James P. Wagner ’04 from the house following allegations by the police that he was one of two main aggressors in the incident.

Schreiber said that as a consequence Wagner is “not supposed to set foot in the house” until the alumni “agree it’s okay.”

Halperin said that the decision banning Wagner would not be reconsidered until at least January 2004. As the landlord from which TDC rents its house, he said, the alumni corporation has the power to disallow any person from the premises.

He said that the fraternity was preempted in taking any action against Wagner by the corporation’s decision at the initial hearing in early September.

Wagner did not return requests for comment.

The alumni corporation also suspended the members of the alumni softball team from the house.

TDC moves to change culture

“We’re very much still here and very much stronger,” Halperin said. “It’s unfortunate something this bad had to happen to turn us around, but people are sticking together.”

Other changes the alumni are considering include having a resident alumnus, “not a very recent alum,” live at the house, Schreiber said.

He also said that at least once a month, a member of the alumni corporation would attend the fraternity’s weekly chapter meeting, and that TDC would have an annual retreat at the beginning of each school year at which the alumni could reinforce health and safety standards.

Jennifer Krishnan contributed to the reporting of this story.