Late-night live music ban at Senior House may shorten Steer Roast

The MIT Police Department informed Senior House last month that it would no longer be allowed to run live outdoor music events past 11:30 p.m.

This is expected to prove troubling for Steer Roast, an annual Senior House event centered around live music.  

“I hope to get this resolved before Steer Roast,” Senior House President Sarah Melvin ’18 said. “Because that’s the main issue. We just couldn’t have the amount of music that we traditionally do.”

Senior House representatives were told that live music should end early out of respect for neighbors. Senior House neighbors the apartments at 100 Memorial drive as well as the Gray House, where President Reif resides.

“We previously asked students to stop loud outdoor music at midnight,” MIT Chief of Police John DiFava said. “MIT Police is respecting a City of Cambridge expectation that loud music at outdoor events end at 11:30 p.m.”

The MIT Police Department told Senior House residents that the move brings MIT in line with Cambridge ordinance.

“That’s not true,” Melvin said. “There’s nothing in the ordinances about the time 11:30 p.m. I looked through lots and lots of Cambridge law, and there’s nothing.”

The new 11:30 p.m. policy may also be in response to a noise complaint against Senior House during a REX event earlier in the year, for a live music event that ran until a bit after midnight.

Senior House was informed of this change in policy when it registered a live music event for Sept. 17. The registration went through but the MIT Police Department stipulated that the live music must conclude at 11:30 p.m.

“[That] was concerning, because we’ve never gotten that before,” Melvin said.

The clause from the MIT Police Department, in addition to mandating that the music end at 11:30 p.m., also required a police detail at the event.

“The police require you to have a police detail, and then they charge you,” Melvin explained.

These charges can be on the order of hundreds of dollars.

Compounding the financial burden of police details, event hosts do not know how much the police detail charge will be until the event is registered.

“It’s hard to budget for it,” Melvin said.

“The other funny thing about the police detail is that they came for approximately five minutes,” Melvin said, referring to the live music event Senior House hosted after being informed of the new policy. The police officers asked the co-president of Senior House if the event would be over by 11:30 p.m.,  the co-president said yes, and then the officers left.  

“And I don’t know if they charged us for that.” says Melvin. “I really hope that they didn’t.” Senior House was scheduled to be charged $168 for the police detail.

The policy requiring a police detail applies to more than just live music events hosted at Senior House. Events that require a police detail include occasions “when alcohol is served, when cash is collected, where live bands are playing and in cases where attendance is expected to exceed 100 people” according to the MIT Police Department website.  

“I know we’re not the only people being impacted by changes in MIT Police Department policy.” Melvin says. “Other dorms and student groups are being impacted financially.”

Melvin has been working to set up meetings with the Division of Student Life as well as MIT Police Department to push back on the new policy.

“This [policy] is very much coming from MIT Police Department, not Division of Student Life.” Melvin clarifies. “DSL is trying to help DormCon and us [at Senior House] resolve this.”

DiFava, in contrast, sees a different future.

“We will be working with the Division of Student Life to update the event registration process so that, going forward, all residents are aware that loud music at outdoor events must end at 11:30 p.m.”