PBE suspension terms changed by MIT

MIT and Phi Beta Epsilon (PBE) released a joint statement today stating that they have resolved several issues that were raised last fall regarding PBE’s suspension from the Interfraternity Council (IFC). On Sept. 21, 2010, PBE was given a four-year suspension by the IFC for violating no-tolerance policies on hazing in PBE’s new member program.

While PBE will continue to be suspended until Fall 2014, PBE will still be recognized as an MIT fraternity. Brothers will be allowed to stay in their house on 400 Memorial Drive and will be allowed to participate in rush beginning in 2012 if they do not violate IFC or MIT policies.

PBE will be modifying their new member initiation program and will also plan and execute an anti-hazing and new member education workshop for FSILGs.

MIT, along with the FSILG community, will be evaluating FSILG judicial processes and processes related to approved housing and the recognition of fraternities and independent living groups.

2013 reader about 13 years ago

So... what does the suspension mean if they are recognized as a frat? Rushing kids and living in the house is pretty much giving them everything back.

This is a huge slap in the face to JuddComm, who definitely didn't handle it correctly, but undermining them and overturning their judgement when someone whines is stupid.

Anonymous about 13 years ago

Undermining an incorrectly handled process sounds to me like a good idea. You wouldn't accept a speeding ticket from a cop using a broken radar gun. Why should JudComm expect MIT and Phi Beta Epsilon to accept a judgement that came from a severly flawed process? Also, I don't see how objecting to that flawed process could be classified as whining.

Anonymous about 13 years ago

A 4 year suspension of a fraternity is effectively the same as a 10 year expulsion. Incorporating softer terms for a suspension should be standard policy.

Phi Beta Epsilon Alum about 13 years ago

Clearly, no member of Phi Beta Epsilon or MIT wants to harm or put at risk any student. We are in this together to pursue the best learning atmosphere for our studentmembers. We were all students foremost.

Anonymous about 13 years ago

Seems that MIT realized it was upholding a flawed decision by a biased JudComm and now they are trying to keep the "suspension" in name while giving PBE all of their rights back as a fraternity. Hockfield may have been a good neuroscientist, but clearly is a poor administrator. Dramatic change in the political climate at MIT is in order.

Anonymous about 13 years ago

I'm curious how judcomm is seen as "biased".

And what about the process itself is flawed?

People are killed from fraternity hazing so it's pretty logical to have a very strict policy against it. I don't necessarily agree with the decision that the JudComm made in the first place, or that it was changed after the fact by MIT, but I think saying that there was a bias and that the process is flawed is going too far. They took the problem as it's written in the book - hazing, as outlined by MA state law, results in expulsion. They even made it softer than it was written by making it a suspension.

It's important for both the school and the IFC to have extremely strict rules on hazing in order to continue allowing the fraternity system to exist at all.

Calling the process "biased" or "flawed" is an overstatement and is unfair, and those who say such things only come across as bitter and illogical.

Alum about 13 years ago

Would writing a scenario in which a pledge had beer poured over his head constitute hazing? In fact, the possible scenario was never implemented nor approved. The JudComm chairman was denied acceptance into PBE's pledge class years earlier.

How is that situation not flawed?

Anonymous about 13 years ago

Judcomm itself may not be biased, but any system that has no mechanism or expectation to recuse biased members is clearly flawed. If nothing else, this case should serve as a wake up call to the entire community that reforms are needed. Who watches the watchmen?

Anonymous about 13 years ago


MIT-IFC Follows the hazing defined by the FIPG in addition to MA Hazing Laws.

The FIPG definition can be found on page under the "Risk Management Program" at

Anonymous about 13 years ago

There were 150 variables that needed to be considered and solved by MIT and PBE. This resolution is an elegant solution to a nondeterministic polynomial time class problem. If you do the math you will understand why this is a reasonable conclusion.

JudComm Board Member about 13 years ago

Here is a slight correction to some of the comments above.

7 no, the judcomm chair never rushed pbe nor had any interaction with them until fall are wrong.

most....what do you think is flawed?

8 There is a mechanism and expectation for board members to recuse themselves and is taught to each board member at the JudComm Board member training that is required of all board you are wrong...

before posting you should probably know a little bit about what you are talking about....

Stephen P. McNamara 1980 about 13 years ago

I don't think it serves anyone at MIT, the IFC, or at PBE to rehash these issues here. Many of them were discussed in detail last Fall in The Tech already. Both MIT and PBE decided to resolve a very serious conflict. That is a good thing, not something to criticize.

Anonymous about 13 years ago

I question why anyone would want to be a member of IFC after this debacle, given that IFC has life and death power over its members via its ability to suspend and expel member organizations from MIT without regard to well-defined institute policy or its own bylaws.

Number 6 clearly has the right idea. It's time for IFC to die a sad and lonely death.

Anonymous about 13 years ago


I believe 7 meant a member of that JudComm who served the ruling, not the chairman himself. One of the members rushed PBE years earlier, and was not offered a bid. And if he absorbed and adhered to his training appropriately, he should have known better and recused himself from the case.

Bruce Kinzinger, \'84 about 13 years ago

Hazing can be dangerous. Abuse of power is a worry in any environment. "Zero tolerance" policy, however, is rigid, allowing for no proportion to offense, and what can potentially be an abuse of power, in itself!

This situation was an administrative quagmire, where most people saw the punishment as disporportionate to the offense (recognizing that reasonable people may disagree on this point).

Just like a well-engineered system, or "TQM" approach to managing problems, MIT and PBE were able to review issues and move forward with appropriate feedback and cautious, monitored optimism.

Hopefully future reviews of this decision will see this result as having served both institutions well. Perhaps we will see improvements in initiation which reduce worry to those outside the fraternity, yet still allowing for Brotherhood bonding. At the same time, perhaps a review of "zero tolerance" policies could make such quandaries less likely to occur again at MIT.

Congratulations to both parties. As for IFC/ JudComm, this situation can be an opportunity to do some self-reflection, too, as an entity, to improve and move forward.

Anonymous about 13 years ago

As the seriousness of penalties increase, the requirement for a well-defined policy as well as a well-defined process are implemented. When you have a process in which what is effectively a death penalty can be imposed, allowing the decision to be made by five undergraduates who are members of other living groups that compete with the accused for members is clearly a flawed process. Add in a stolen document, no claim that anything happened and a judge who should have recused himself, and it goes from flawed to ridiculous.

The PBE case has made it obvious that there need to be changes in the way the system works. The settlement provides some hope that that will happen.