May ATO Incident a Cause of Expulsion

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The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity was recently expelled from the Interfraternity Council and is appealing the decision. ATO’s house, shown here awaiting repairs on Monday, currently houses fraternity members.
Melissa Renee Schumacher

Alpha Tau Omega’s expulsion from the Interfraternity Council, which remains under appeal, was based in part on the outcome of a hearing about a May 2009 incident allegedly involving “underage consumption” and “failure to provide emergency medical assistance,” according to minutes of a Sept. 2 IFC meeting that were briefly made available online.

The information is accurate, the IFC president said, but the meeting’s notes were unpublished from the organizations’ website because some sections had been released prematurely.

The news helps explain a letter announcing ATO’s expulsion that was sent out by IFC President David J. Hutchings ’10 to ATO leadership on Aug. 27 and later released via e-mail to IFC members on Sept. 4. Alpha Tau Omega was found to have violated a “one-and-done” policy put into place by the IFC in October 2008. Under the probationary policy, ATO would accumulate “points” or fractions of points with any IFC violation cited during a period of time. If one point were accrued in any year, the fraternity would be expelled.

ATO was found to have earned one and five-eighths points since then, and, as a result, has lost recognition from the IFC and the MIT administration, and it will be banned from starting a new chapter at MIT for the next ten years if the expulsion is not overturned by appeal. If ATO loses its appeal, its members will no longer be allowed to live in its house.

Although the Sept. 2 meeting notes do not specify which violations in particular ATO was found responsible for, they do mention that there was a hearing during the week of Aug. 24 regarding two alleged violations: “underage consumption” and “failure to provide emergency medical assistance.” The notes also mention that an event on May 9 resulted in the violations.

ATO submitted an appeal to reverse its expulsion last week. According to the IFC Judicial Committee bylaws, appeals first go to the Assistant Dean for FSILGs and the Director of the Office of Student Citizenship, currently David Kennedy. According to Hutchings, in this case, the FSILG office has recused itself from the appeal process because the complaint was originally made to the FSILG office and was then delivered to the IFC by them.

After this first step, the Assistant Dean for FSILGs and the Director of the Office of Student Citizenship may decide to either deny the appeal, reduce the sanctions, send the case to an appeals board for review, or send the case for a new hearing.

ATO’s appeal is currently under review by Kennedy. ATO president DeRon M. Brown ’10 declined to comment on the expulsion until the appeal is heard.

Hutchings would not comment on the details of the ATO case because he wanted to wait until the appeals process was over. He also said he did not want IFC Judicial Board members to form any “preconceived notions” about the case.

During the summer of 2008, ATO lost its housing license from the Cambridge Licensing Commission and was forced to move out after a burst pipe caused extensive water damage. The chapter reclaimed its license in June 2009 but is now subject to several restrictions on the building’s use: Residents must not use the roof, they must undergo monthly inspections by the alumni board and MIT, and they must follow MIT’s alcohol rules. Finally, only six people may reside in the house.

During both school terms last academic year, the Association of Independent Living Groups, an organization of FSILG alumni that advises FSILGs, did not recommend ATO’s accreditation.