MIT Fraternity Blames Harvard Freshman for Violation, but Indoor Waterfall Did Not Help

By Beth Treffeisen

The Phi Delta Theta MIT fraternity located at 97 Bay State Road near Kenmore Square ran into some trouble with the licensing board after an early semester party got out of hand.

On the evening of Sept. 3, Sgt. Detective Robert Mulvey testified that Boston Police arrived at the scene at 11:50 p.m. to see a line of college-aged students outside the fraternity.

Upon further inspection, the police opened the doors into a “club-like” scene on the first floor, with low lights, DJ entertainment, and a two-story waterfall that flowed down a marble staircase creating a hazardous situation.

To top off the waterfall exhibition, an underage Harvard freshman was caught inside hiding a bottle of Bud Light.

How the Harvard freshman got in baffled MIT fraternity members because they had a member outside counting how many were let in, and had people inside checking at the door for MIT IDs. Further admittance was granted to MIT students rushing for Phi Delta Theta on the second floor.

The mechanical count at the door showed 116 people were inside, which is in excess of the 58 maximum residents and guests allowed by its occupancy permit. After Boston Police took their own count on the premises, they requested Boston Fire to arrive,  and ordered everyone who wasn’t a resident in the building to leave.

A fraternity alumnus later claimed that the maximum capacity for the frat house was 200 persons, a discrepancy he claimed happened when Inspectional Services Department (ISD) redesigned the licenses issued in 2014 sporting only the number of residents allowed and not guests.

At the violations hearing held on Oct. 10, 2017, a number of MIT officials, and a fraternity alumnus who own the building attended the meeting to support the fraternity.

It was made clear that the fraternity has been put on probation to recruit potential pledges after the Sept. 3 incident, and have not held any events since.

Brad Badgley, the associate dean and director of fraternities, sororities and independent living groups for MIT noted that this fraternity is placed in Boston because 100 years ago the university once sat on this side of the river.

MIT has fraternities and sororities in Cambridge, Boston and Brookline. Badgley said that MIT works to create great partnerships with every city they reside in.

In addition, he said, “MIT fraternity members have an average GPA of 4.48 out of 5, so they’re not the stereotype that people talk about.”

Timothee Schoen, the Phi Delta Theta president, took full responsibility for the party, but was fast to blame the Harvard student for being the only person on the premise drinking, claiming the party was alcohol free.

“We try our best to make sure nobody drinks,” said Schoen. “But sometimes people fall through the cracks. We try our best, and we are getting better at this process.”

Robert Binkowski the president of the MIT Interfraternity Council backed up Schoen’s claim that this was a dry party. A search before the event showed no signs of liquor on the premise. Schoen promised stricter security measures going forward to stop anyone who didn’t belong to enter the building.

In regards to the two-story waterfall, Schoen said this was one of the biggest events of the year and they wanted to make an impression.

Although MIT students spent hours making sure the water cascading in droplets was entirely caught and brought to a sink, Schoen stated, “it probably was not a smart thing.”

In regards to the violation for DJ entertainment, Schoen said he called the city beforehand to see if he needed a license for the DJ but was told they didn’t need one because no alcohol was being served.

“We haven’t had any violations in the last 20 years until now,” said Schoen. “We learned from our mistakes, and we tried to do our best but we failed this time.”

Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini was pleased with the steps taken so far by the fraternity.

“We are here because of the public safety issue and you have taken pro-active actions,” said Pulgini. “Hopefully we’ll never see you again and you will go on with your 3.9 cum laude or whatever it was and go on to better things.”

The Licensing Board will make a decision on this matter on Thursday on whether or not to issue penalties.

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