Sigma Nu, an alcohol-free fraternity with a tradition of community service, has applied to transfer its dormitory license to 28 The Fenway in Boston, the former site of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.
A hearing is scheduled before the Boston Licensing Board (BLB) today (March 10). MIT officials plan to support the transfer at the hearing.
Sigma Nu, which has never been cited for a BLB violation, is currently located at 523 Newbury St. in the Back Bay, with 19 of its 27 members living in double and triple rooms. The fraternity rents apartments nearby to accommodate the remaining members. If the 300-yard move is approved, Sigma Nu plans to relocate in the fall to 28 The Fenway, which has room for 44 residents.
"We simply need more space," said Sigma Nu House Corporation President Michael Plusch (SB 1993). "We've been good neighbors on Newbury Street and we will continue to be at the Fenway." The fraternity expects Newbury Street neighbors to support the application.
The Malcolm Cotton Brown Corp., Phi Gamma Delta's house corporation, hopes to negotiate a lease in short order if the Sigma Nu license transfer is approved. "We'd like to start generating some income again," said Rod Taft (SB 1974), head of the corporation. Two Phi Gamma Delta members, one of whom is a senior, have been living in the house as caretakers.
Each Sigma Nu member is involved in at least one public service project, including work with the homeless and tutoring elementary school students. The entire chapter organizes several events each semester, including semiannual Kenmore Alley Cleanups during which members remove trash and generally clean up the streets and alleys near the house.
Sigma Nu members have also participated in CityDays, the Interfraternity Council Hunger Hike, the Cambridge YWCA partnership and LINKS. Members cleaned and painted the basement of a Cambridge soup kitchen last year during the Order of Omega Greek Week Community Service Day. The national fraternity cited the MIT group for having the third-highest grade point average among its more than 300 chapters last year.
Sigma Nu has prohibited hazing since its inception in 1869. The MIT chapter began a progressive alcohol-free policy in 1995. Nationwide, all chapters must be dry by 2000.
The Sigma Nu national fraternity played a major role in formulating the alcohol reduction policy adopted by many fraternities in 1987. It also spearheaded the creation of LEADS, a leadership program for fraternities.
Phi Gamma Delta was suspended by MIT and the BLB after freshman pledge Scott Krueger died of alcohol poisoning after drinking at the fraternity house in September 1997. Aside from the caretakers, no Phi Gamma Delta member has lived in the house since January 1998. Last summer, MIT said it would not support an application for reinstatement of the Phi Gamma Delta dormitory license, and the fraternity relinquished its status as an MIT-recognized living group. The chapter was subsequently dissolved.
The Suffolk County District Attorney indicted the chapter on hazing and involuntary manslaughter charges.
A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 22).