PBE hazing details still undisclosed

IFC confirms hazing took place in January

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: Because of an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Pi Kappa Alpha was previously expelled from MIT. The original chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha deafilliated from its national organization to become the coed independent living group pika. Pi Kappa Alpha, known as Pike, returned to MIT in early 2010 to restart the fraternity.

A week after the News Office announced the decision to suspend the fraternity Phi Beta Epsilon (PBE) for hazing, parties remain tight-lipped about details of the case.

The Interfraternity Council (IFC), the student body that governs the fraternities, has released some information to The Tech, mostly about how the case against PBE played out.

But information about the most important matter — the nature and severity of the hazing allegations — continues to be withheld. Neither the IFC, which handled the case initially, nor the FSILG office, which was involved with the subsequent appeal, nor the members of PBE have offered any details about what PBE did, and why it was considered hazing.

The IFC has confirmed that in the days leading up to the beginning of fall rush, an anonymous source gave the IFC a document that described new member education activities that PBE conducted with its pledge class of 2013 in January 2010. The IFC said that PBE confirmed that the document belonged to PBE.

The IFC has kept the identity of this source a secret from PBE members.

According to IFC Judicial Committee chair Garrett R. Fritz ’11, the IFC decided that the hazing allegations were serious enough to stop rush. On Monday Sept. 6, the third day of rush, PBE was told it could not continue with its rush activities until the matter was resolved. The members were notified while on a trip to Six Flags with potential new members.

That same night, an IFC judicial board hearing was held. Three PBE representatives were allowed to speak at the hearing, though other members and alumni attended. Fritz said all five voting members voted unanimously that PBE violated the IFC’s Risk Management Policy (which prohibits hazing).

The board decided to expel PBE, which means a 10-year ban from MIT. PBE appealed the decision on two grounds: that the judicial process was flawed, and that the punishment was too severe. PBE’s appeal was read by Marlena Martinez Love, the director of the Office of Fraternities, Sororities and Independent Living Groups, and David Kennedy, the director of the Office of Student Citizenship.

Last Tuesday, the MIT News Office announced that PBE had been “suspended” for four years. According to Fritz, Love and Kennedy felt some leniency was appropriate.

According to IFC President Ryan Schoen ’11, if PBE wants to return in four years, it will have to work closely with the IFC and the FSILG office. Unlike previously expelled fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, PBE won’t be treated as a new fraternity and will not have to petition the president’s council for permission to return.

The IFC has provided The Tech with a redacted version of the initial decision letter, which quotes relevant sections from the IFC Risk Management Policy.

The letter implies that PBE’s new member education involved alcohol by quoting from risk management policy: “No alcohol shall be present at any pledge activity or ritual of the chapter.”

The letter also quotes the policy’s description of hazing: “Massachusetts State Law defines hazing as: ‘any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether public or private, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.’”

Schoen told The Tech that more information may be forthcoming later this week. Love, the director of the Office of FSILGs, has not returned several requests to comment.

PBE is a local fraternity, founded at MIT over 100 years ago, and only has this one chapter. In part because the entire process, from first discovery to final decision, took less than three weeks, many PBE alumni have complained that the decision was too hasty. (See letters, page 5.)

When IFC Judicial Committee chair convenes a hearing board to discuss a case, four representatives from different fraternities are asked to attend and cast votes. They are joined by the Judicial Committee secretary, who has fifth vote. The committee chair, Fritz, does not vote, but does participate in discussions.

MIT will ask the Cambridge Licensing Commission to revoke PBE’s housing license, so PBE members will not be allowed to reside there anymore. The process will probably take until the end of the semester, so members won’t have to move out right away, Schoen said. The fate of the house is unclear, as the PBE corporation owns both the house and the land underneath and can choose what to do with it.