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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Boston bans MIT parties

Published: November 1, 2013
Section: News

Boston officials have indefinitely banned large events and parties at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Greek houses and living groups in the city. Boston’s Inspectional Services Department surveyed nine residences used by MIT students and found a number of infractions. The department stated that it cannot guarantee the safety of these buildings if there are more occupants on the site than are legally allowed to live there.

MIT’s Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council and Association of Independent Living Groups received an email from university officials with the news last week. MIT is working with students and Boston to remedy the situation.

“So please, let’s not test them on this to find out. We know this is a challenge, but we need to work through it together, not fight it,” the email said.

MIT fraternities have been a part of the school for more than a century and boast an impressive group of alumni. The independent living groups are similar to the Greek societies but are not affiliated with a larger organization. College Prowler maintains that 50 percent of males and 27 percent of females are a member of a Greek organization at MIT.

Those who fail to comply with the rules may jeopardize their dormitory license and force officials to take further action against fraternities, sororities and independent living groups throughout Boston. The university is imposing a temporary restriction on their residences in Cambridge and Brookline of three times the legal occupancy limit. MIT officials are working to find methods to host currently planned events that would comply with the ban.

“MIT is well aware of the hardship this will pose for our Boston-based organizations, and it intends to do everything it reasonably can to help mitigate the impact on our organizations’ social programs and general operations while working with us to resolve the underlying safety issues,” the email went on.

Although the MIT campus is located across the Charles River in the city of Cambridge, a majority of the school’s Greek and independent living group facilities are in the Kenmore and Back Bay neighborhoods of Boston. The Huffington Post reported that the ruling will likely affect 19 of the 27 fraternities, three of the six sororities and two of the six independent living groups.

This change takes place nearly a month after an MIT student fell four stories while jumping on an improperly placed Plexiglas skylight at the Phi Sigma Kappa house at 487 Commonwealth Avenue in Kenmore. The unnamed student was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital with minimal injuries. The fraternity was subsequently issued several citations including illegally knocking down walls, constructing an unsafe and illegal roof deck and not installing rails or protection on the roof, as reported by NECN.

The school’s senior associate dean for residential life and dining has stated that the building concerns are not based on a particular incident, although the inspection that preceded the ruling was prompted by the aforementioned incident. MIT’s Association of Independent Living’s building safety facilitator collected the information that was then presented to Boston officials. The inspection called for each property to “provide information justifying its current posted assembly occupancy figure,” according to The Tech. City officials are considering making the ban permanent.

Occupancy reports for all applicable homes will need to be submitted and approved by the Inspectional Services Department before the ban is lifted. The required 39 reviews will likely not be completed until December, at which point an additional few weeks will be necessary to look over the reports.