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City Tightens Party Rules

By Ella A. Hoffman, Crimson Staff Writer

The Cambridge License Commission has rescinded a permit that allowed House dining hall parties to run past 1 a.m. in the wake of the “Mather Lather” party that raged out of control two weekends ago.

The commission’s decision—which will be reviewed at a May 27 hearing—is a setback for the Undergraduate Council, which last year celebrated the extension of hours at non-alcoholic parties in House common spaces to 2 a.m.

Richard Scali, the commission’s executive officer, said yesterday that the policy was reversed after the Harvard police shut down Mather Lather for overcrowding.

Harvard University Police Department officers broke up the April 26 party after a Mather House tutor placed a call to them requesting assistance with crowd control.

Scali said 1,300 people attended the dance, while the license Mather had permitted a capacity of only 400.

“The problem with Mather Lather had more to do with over-capacity, rowdiness and the out-of-control nature of it all,” Scali said.

The commission will consider whether to take legal action against Mather House at the May 27 hearing, Scali said.

College officials contacted yesterday said they were unaware of the commissions’ decision and it was unclear when the change was made and how it was announced.

Undergraduate Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 said he had not received official notice of the change, but said that if true, it was off-base.

“The problems with the Mather Lather party appeared to be very isolated,” Chopra said. “The problem was not about hours, was not about alcohol—it was about capacity.”

Limiting hours would increase, not decrease overcrowding, he said.

Chopra added, however, that he suspected the change would not be a permanent one.

While the effect of shortened party hours is College-wide, the change came to light after the commission voiced concerns about another Mather party request—the House formal that took place Saturday night.

The commission initially refused to grant either an entertainment or liquor license for the spring formal, agreeing to approve the licenses at a hearing last Friday only if Mather House Co-Master Leigh G. Hafrey accepted personal responsibility for it.

“The only person the commissioners thought would be reasonable would be someone supervising the House and that would be the House master,” Scali said. “If he is not willing to trust in these kids then why should the commissioners.”

Hafrey said he signed onto the entertainment license request so that the formal could go on, but decided not to take on the alcohol license, out of worries of legal liability.

While House Committee (HoCo) members said they were initially upset that the formal would have to run dry, they ultimately came to understand Hafrey’s hesitance.

“He would have had to have assigned his personal liability to every person at that party,” HoCo Co-President Zachary A. Corker ’04 said. “I wouldn’t have signed it either.”

“I felt quite confident that we could address the terms of the entertainment license—that the party could be kept quiet,” Hafrey said. “The liquor license by contrast—we have no control over student consumption of alcohol before and around the formal.”

But the commission’s action left many in Mather House disappointed.

“Our frustration is, in trying to provide social outlets for students, we come across bumps in the road at every turn,” Corker said. “We know that our masters are working for us, and we hope that other masters and the administration are doing their parts.”

—Staff writer Ella A. Hoffman can be reached at

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