Members of the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity can soon come home. Yesterday afternoon, the Cambridge License Commission unanimously approved them for a long-sought housing license.
The license comes with several conditions attached. Among those: ATO must continue to follow rules it has set for itself, which largely bar alcohol until February 2010; that students have no access to or use of the roof; that there will be monthly inspections by their Alumni Board and by MIT; and that the CLC will review the license in six months.
Residents have been out of the house since summer 2008, when the commission revoked ATO’s housing license after a pipe leak caused extensive water damage.
Many ATO residents were housed in MacGregor House suite lounges in the fall, as the estimated date they could return to their home slipped from Oct. 15, 2008 to January 2009 to early April. In the spring semester, ATO residents were housed in available rooms in a half-dozen different dormitories all across campus.
The CLC’s members wanted to ensure that ATO residents had a concrete plan for keeping their house in good condition, they said at a May 12 meeting where they discussed ATO’s reapplication for a housing license.
Repairs to the building were largely complete in January, when an ATO application was reviewed but not voted on by the CLC. According to the minutes, the CLC delayed considering the application because they had heard that ATO had lost its national fraternity charter; in fact, it has not.
The CLC might have been thinking of another process. The Association of Independent Living Groups (AILG) reviewed ATO in fall 2008 and again in April 2009 and both times said that ATO was “not recommended for accreditation” in a report passed to the Dean for Student Life.
“Action based on the recommendation is purely at the discretion of the Dean’s office,” according to a description of the process at http://web.mit.edu/covert/ailgreviews/
AILG accreditation was an informal requirement for ATO to reapply for a housing license, president DeRon M. Brown ’10 told The Tech in May.
ATO presented their case to the CLC on May 12, at which time the commission voted to take the matter “under advisement,” until yesterday.
At the May meeting, CLC members expressed a desire for more concrete plan for keeping the house in good condition.
They expressed concern that ATO students may not be responsible enough to manage the house. They did not specifically blame the fraternity for the burst pipe, but did blame the students for the unsafe and unsanitary living conditions discovered when the house was inspected following the water damage.
ATO President DeRon M. Brown ’10 and Shane Norton ’97, president of the ATO Alumni Board, spoke on behalf of ATO at the May meeting. They said that all house members would now work harder to maintain the house, outlining a plan to better manage the house.
After the commission chose not to vote on the license in May, ATO resident adviser Ovid C. Amadi G and Kaya Miller, assistant dean of Residential Life Programs and FSILGs, spoke on behalf of ATO. Amadi further vouched for ATO’s revamped management plan.
Last fall, the commission had expressed a wish for a “resident manager … not a student … who has knowledge of the building” to look after the house. But Miller vouched for Amadi, saying that he had been deemed a suitable candidate for resident adviser.
She added that since the housing license had been revoked, ATO had met the “fifteen objectives” for improvement set by the Department of Residential Life.
Miller said ATO has a full alcohol ban in effect until next February, and also in the summers of 2009 and 2010. For spring semester 2010, ATO may host events with alcohol, but with no more than 30 guests. After summer 2010, ATO would regain all party privileges. Miller said these steps would help ATO regain responsibility.
The Tech reported last fall that ATO had served alcohol to underage freshmen at a rush event, causing many in the Interfraternity Council to criticize ATO’s rush practices.