Theta Tau freshmen took copies of The Tech for fraternity event

Papers, flyers used to make confetti

Four freshmen members of Theta Tau were found to have taken some of the stacks of The Tech that went missing Dec. 8, according to an emailed statement from Karleigh Moore G, chairman of The Tech. These papers were used to make confetti for a fraternity event.

The Tech reported that approximately 3,050 copies of its papers went missing within a day after they were distributed.

Moore informed the MIT Police of the incident Dec. 8.

“The police cross-checked a list of distribution locations of The Tech and places that had security cameras,” Moore wrote. Moore was told that police found footage of two students taking stacks of papers from Maseeh and two others taking stacks near Building 66.

“Papers were taken from more than just these locations,” Moore added.

The police were able to identify the individuals and informed Moore that all four were freshmen on athletic teams.

After receiving the results of the police investigation, Moore filed a complaint with the Committee on Discipline (COD) Jan. 18. Last Thursday, Moore wrote, she learned from Executive Officer of the COD Tessa McLain that the suspects were all members of Theta Tau.

Andy Rodriguez ’19, Theta Tau’s current regent, explained what had happened in a phone interview with The Tech.

Per Theta Tau’s tradition, about a week before their “big bro, little bro” event, where new pledges find out who their “big brothers” are, all members were asked in a fraternity-wide message “to grab copies of newspapers, flyers, anything they can find,” Rodriguez said.

“As people are walking about campus or in the city, if they see some free papers, if they see a big stack of flyers, or whatever it may be, they may grab a couple copies and bring it back to the house,” Rodriguez explained.

However, a few freshmen who saw the gradually accumulating stacks of papers and flyers in the Theta Tau house got “perhaps a little too overzealous, a little too eager about the event” and grabbed “numerous” copies of The Tech, Rodriguez said.

A few people in Theta Tau voiced concern that unprecedented quantities were collected, according to Rodriguez. However, nobody realized “that anyone was being hurt by the actions of our fraternity” at the time, as otherwise, “something would have been done,” Rodriguez continued.  

One of the freshmen under COD investigation corroborated most of Rodriguez’s account in an interview with The Tech.

“People all over, whether it was freshmen or sophomores, whoever felt inclined to contribute, went and got some newspaper,” he explained. “I took about a stack [of The Tech] from the Infinite, and from there I brought it to the house.”

Although the four members under COD investigation happen to be freshmen, the incident did not involve any hazing, he emphasized. “There was no pressuring of any freshmen to get newspapers. Some freshmen in the pledge class didn’t get any newspapers; there was no consequence. … There was no pressure at all.”

McLain noted to Moore that only the individuals, and not Theta Tau as an organization, would be held responsible, because the organization did not encourage its members “to take large quantities of The Tech explicitly,” Moore wrote. McLain declined to comment to The Tech on the case.

Members of The Tech arrived at the estimation of 3,050 papers by going around campus to distribution points and summing “the numbers of papers that were delivered to each location that [were] suddenly completely empty,” Moore wrote.

The missing papers constituted about half of The Tech’s distribution, Moore said in a follow-up interview. According to an email from Christopher Wang ’19, business manager of The Tech, the Dec. 7 issue cost $1,000 to print and $237 to deliver.

“When I talked to our risk manager last semester, he had expressed a concern that 3,000 [missing papers] seemed to have been a little absurd,” Rodriguez said, adding that he did not mean that The Tech’s estimates were necessarily incorrect.

Moore said there is a possibility another group coincidentally also took large quantities of The Tech Dec. 7-8, although she finds that unlikely.

The Tech published two notices about the missing newspapers in the week after their disappearance, one in the form of a letter from the Executive Board and the other in the form of a box on the front page.

As for why Theta Tau chose not to alert The Tech of their involvement earlier, Rodriguez said he did not see the notices, while the freshman mentioned that The Tech’s reference to a police investigation discouraged them from reaching out.

“Throughout the house, we didn’t think it was that big of a deal until we saw the [COD] email, and then we were like, all right. Now we recognize that it’s a huge deal. I mean, I wouldn’t say huge, I would say it’s a — we definitely want to apologize. At the same time, it’s just not going to happen again,” the freshman said.

Nafisa Syed contributed reporting.