Harvard freshman with a beer got MIT frat in trouble; but the two-story indoor waterfall didn't help

An MIT fraternity on Bay State Road had to explain itself before the Boston Licensing Board today for an incident last month in which all non-residents were evacuated after police and fire inspectors found too many people inside, a two-story shower-head waterfall was drenching a marble staircase, and a kid popped open a can of Bud Light.

MIT, meanwhile, has put the fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, 97 Bay State Rd., on probation for the rest of the semester for the events of Sept. 3 to recruit potential pledges. Despite that, however, several MIT officials, and a veteran fraternity alumnus attended the hearing to support the frat.

After explaining how wonderful MIT fraternities are - one MIT associate dean testified that, on average, MIT frat boys have exceptionally high GPAs and that MIT frats are "not the stereotype that people often think about" - frat and MIT officials placed the blame for the underage-drinking issue on a party-crashing Harvard freshman.

Somehow, frat and college officials said, the Harvard kid found out about the party and showed up with a can of Bud Light hidden in his clothing. And somehow, despite a frat brother standing outside checking IDs, he got into the frat's first floor - where he popped open the beer just as two Boston Police detectives had arrived on scene after seeing a long line of young-looking people standing outside, officials said.

Phi Delta Theta President Timothee Schoen, while acknowledging the fraternity's "full responsibility," for letting the cross-town frosh get inside, said the kid never got upstairs to where the real party was - and wouldn't have, because another couple of fraternity members were on the first floor doing further ID checks.

The party itself "was completely dry," Schoen said. MIT officials concurred, noting MIT "alcohol compliance" officers paid several visits to the frat that night and found no other problems.

Schoen said the fraternity will be taking additional security measures to make it even harder for Harvard students another people who don't belong to enter the building in the future.

Yes, the fraternity had rigged up a two-story "droplet" shower, lit with strobes, Schoen said. It's important to have something truly exceptional during pledge week, and two members spent several hours making sure it worked perfectly and took steps to minimize splashover.

"I didn't feel like it was dangerous," he said.

Schoen testified after BPD Det. Daniel MacDonald, who told the board that the staircase "waver very slipper, and I did slip going down the stairs."

MIT also differed with police on whether the frat was overcrowded that night. Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey testified his count showed 116 people inside the frat, far in excess of the 58 residents and guests that are the maximum allowed by its occupancy certificate. After taking his count, Mulvey requested a captain from Boston Fire to arrive; they then ordered everybody who wasn't a resident out of the building.

But an alumnus who sits on the frat's board said the building actually has a capacity of 200 people.

The licensing board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take. Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini seemed satisfied that the fraternity is working to prevent safety problems in the future: "Hopefully, we'll never see you again and you will graduate with your 3.9 cum or whatever it was and go on to invent great things."

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    Comments

    A few months ago Harvard

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    A few months ago Harvard essentially 'expelled' 10 freshmen for reposting content from /r/dankmemes to a Facebook group. Will they expel this freshman too?

    Lol

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    Cause, you know, sneaking a beer when over 18 but under 21 is totally the same thing as publicly posting racist and antisemitic (and other) memes in a chat with your school's name (“Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens” and “General Fuckups”) on it.

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    I saw those memes

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    There was 1 dark humor 'antisemitic' meme, something you'd see on, say, 4chan

    I saw A LOT of 'humor' in poor taste referencing dead body fetishes, pedophilia, and mass murder.

    I saw some'racist' humor referencing Mexicans, most mild except for one in very poor taste referencing a suicide.

    I think it was overkill and grandstanding to expel.

    The Harvard way

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    Most likely, he'll be able to withdraw for this year and come back the next year. It's an odd system that befits an Ivy League institution.

    Tough Situation

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    This is a real tough situation. MIT frat parties during Rush are notoriously dry, because the frats have too much to lose if they break the cardinal rule of "no booze at rush events". I've seen frats at MIT completely disbanded as a result of breaking the rule (granted, they had a target on their backs to begin with). My old frat went to the point of locking up everyone's personal booze in a locked, sealed, chest during Rush, even if there wasn't a party at the house that night. To have someone smuggle in a beer and get caught is both incredibly poor timing, and very bad luck for the frat.

    No opinion on the capacity or waterfall issues, although it is interesting the discrepancy between what the City and the alumnus is saying...

    Occupancy

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    I have to agree with the alumnus. There must be a higher occupancy than 58. That building has 14,000 square feet of living space.

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    But someone from the alumni

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    But someone from the alumni board says 200 people are allowed.

    It should be a basic fact. It shouldn't take weeks of deliberations to figure out how many people are allowed in the building.

    Code

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    So this is where the Building Code comes in, and what has been permitted for occupancy by the City of Boston Building Inspectional Services. While physically the building may hold 200 people (per egress counts, square foot capacity, fire department requirements, toilet counts), they are still beholden to what they have been permitted for.

    So that will be the research: by MIT, the Fraternity (whoever went for the Occupancy Permit, likely with either the contractor's or architect's assistance or MIT's Capital Programs/Facilities Dept), and the City Inspectional Services Office. It could take a week or two depending upon how organized each are.

    Ultimately the Authority Having Jurisdiction rules. And often one will see the Building Inspector defer to the Fire Department, since they're the ones running in to save lives.

    The 58 number is most

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    The 58 number is most certainly the residential occupancy limit, as in the number of students allowed to live there, not the fire code capacity. You can have a party in your apartment or condo, for example, and while you probably don’t have a posted maximum occupancy in each unit, there is a fire code derived limit that you could violate.

    Up until the last five years or so BLB used to include an assembly occupancy limit on the dormitory license, in addition to the residential occupancy, which was used as the party size limit. Depending on the size of the house might have been around 300.

    After BLB stopped putting an occupancy limit on the license, those numbers were recalculated by MIT based on current fire code, and are capped at 249 for dry events, regardless of the building size. For wet events, the number is less, and based on the number of house members. All fraternity parties at MIT must be registered in advance as wet or dry, and this being rush week, only dry events would have been allowed.

    As someone noted earlier, MIT fraternities generally don’t mess around with rush week rules. A violation, whether it is alcohol-related or not, can result in being banned from participating in rush the following year. Losing a quarter of your membership can be devastating.

    Fire department captain?

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    You mean "idiot cop with a long history of hyperbole".

    The fire department says 58 can RESIDE there.

    really?

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    far in excess of the 58 residents and guests that are the maximum allowed by its occupancy certificate.

    Unless the quote from above is inaccurate?

    So a cop says it was

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    So a cop says it was dangerous because he himself slipped. But there were no reports of injuries.

    Are wet floors illegal? Then let's close down all businesses when it rains.

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    Staircases arent made for

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    Staircases arent made for waterfalls they are made for egress . So even if occupancy was 200 a wet slippery staircase would have made getting out dangerous. A business where the main egress bad flooded would close down until problem is fixed due to health, safety, and fire hazards. The frat was busted. And should take their lumps.

    Well, was there a DJ or not?

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    That was a big part of the original complaint, that they had a DJ without a permit. Did they finally realize how stupid that issue was and just drop it?

    Sorry, I left that out

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    Seem the frat contacted the Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing and was told they didn't need a permit since it was a private event - although given that people who were not MIT students got in (at least one, anyway), one could argue that.

    The Harvard kid magically found out about the party

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    It had nothing to do with the fact that MIT kids routinely stand outside dorms at other schools aggressively advertising their parties to girls because MIT's gender ratio is skewed so male.

    1980 called

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    They want their boy's club back.

    MIT was close to 50/50 by 1990.

    Disappointed.

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    I'm sure the kid who rigged up the waterfall was more offended by the cops telling him that it wasn't safe. MIT kids take that shit seriously. I'm sure that was a well designed cascade. A WELL DESIGNED CASCADE.