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he Boston Licensing Board yesterday banned alcohol from an MIT fraternity house for three years and barred nonmembers from renting rooms there next summer because of a July roof party that injured a Boston University police officer.
Members of the fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, called the decision fair. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said it was ``constructive and consistent with the actions we have already taken.''
But BU spokesman Kevin Carleton called the decision ``not even a slap on the wrist'' for the fraternity, which is next door to BU's admissions office. The decision, he said, provides little comfort to the police officer, who suffered a neck injury while dodging beer bottles thrown from the roof of the fraternity house on Bay State Road.
Carleton said the board should have suspended the fraternity's license, as it did the fraternity where an MIT freshman died after an alcohol overdose last fall.
The message, Carleton said, is that ``you can't kill a student, but it's OK to cripple a police officer.''
MIT officials declined to respond to Carleton's remarks. But Rosalind Williams, MIT student dean, said she already had taken steps to address the problems BU has with the fraternity. BU police say they have been summoned to the house 25 times in four years.
``We want to be good neighbors and expect our students to be as well,'' Williams said.
Indeed, one of the conditions of Beta Theta Pi's probation is that members and the MIT administration meet with BU officials and neighborhood groups within 30 days to discuss the problems. Also within 30 days, the board ordered that house's roof deck be dismantled and that MIT police in Cambridge seek police powers at the school's handful of Boston fraternities.
Beta Theta Pi is the fifth MIT fraternity to be sanctioned by the licensing board in Boston in the past school year.
Phi Gamma Delta had its license suspended for eight months after freshman Scott Krueger died after drinking heavily at a sanctioned fraternity party in September 1997. Sigma Phi Epsilon was given a one-year ban on alcohol in February. Theta Chi has been on probation since January, and Delta Upsilon received a warning after people on its roof threw alcohol-laced cubes of Jell-O at police.
In addition, alcohol was banned at the Zeta Psi fraternity in Cambridge after an underage member tried to buy alcohol. Further information on that event was unavailable.
Two licensing board members yesterday said they did not deem suspension necessary for Beta Theta Pi because summer boarders held the party, which fraternity members said they neither condoned nor joined.
Chairwoman Ellen Rooney and member Daniel Pokaski said they were heartened by the MIT dean's expression of outrage and the acknowledgement by fraternity members that they lost control of the house.
At the house yesterday, which has one of the few Bay State Road doorways not emblazoned with BU crimson, Beta Theta Pi members stood outside in cutoffs. Robert Smith, BU vice counsel, who had urged the board to take away the fraternity's license, stood on the sidewalk glaring at fraternity members.
Members say their house already was supposed to be alcohol-free when the party occurred last month. But they feel MIT's approach, which favors education and accountability over expulsion, will be more effective in the long run.
Criminal charges of assault with a dangerous weapon are pending against a fraternity member, James P. Williams, 21. But MIT and the fraternity contend that the culprits did not attend the school or belong to Beta Theta Pi.
Dwayne Dreger, president of the Interfraternity Council, which has fined the fraternity $1,000 and ordered members to perform community service at BU, said he expected Beta Theta Pi to be suspended. ``I think it was remarkably fair given the seriousness of the allegations made against Beta Theta Pi, and a good decision,'' Dreger said.
``They've realized there's a definite problem with controlling summer boarders, and they've come up with some good internal policies that the Interfraternity council is looking at adopting systemwide,'' he said.
``We were scared after yesterday,'' said fraternity member Jesse Gonzales, referring to board commissioner Joseph Mulligan's vow at a hearing Tuesday to support revocation of the fraternity's license.
Mulligan said he still favors suspending or revoking Beta Theta Pi's license. ``I owe it to the memory of Scott Krueger to protect students from their own lack of maturity,'' Mulligan said. ``I believe MIT is profoundly wrong.''
This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 08/20/98.
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