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MIT consideres new fraternity

By Sam Osofsky

Thirty MIT undergraduate men are trying to establish a chapter of the national fraternity Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) at MIT, according to Kenneth S. Kharbanda '86, the group's coordinator.

The chapter sent a letter of intent to colonize at MIT to Associate Dean for Student Affairs Robert A. Sherwood, Kharbanda said. The chapter also notified the InterFraternity Conference (IFC) of its intent.

Kharbanda said he and several of friends decided to affiliate with KDR in late October. "The idea spread through word of mouth... The [KDR] national came to me with the idea."

"We have progressed to a coherent membership, [with] dues, and working elected officers," Kharbanda said. The group has held "meetings every Sunday ... and a few social events," he added.

The recently-elected IFC officers acted to establish an Expansion Committee, Kharbanda said. The goal of the committee, of which Kharbanda is a member, is "to study the feasibility of a new chapter" and to submit a recommendation to the IFC general session, he said.

The Expansion Committee has been evaluating the feasibility of a KDR chapter at MIT. "Housing is a major concern," Sherwood said.

He said a lack of existing housing for independent living groups might impede KDR's colony on campus. "The Real Estate office has hired a part-time broker to find Alpha Phi housing," Sherwood said. The broker has searched unsuccessfully for a house for the sorority over the past year.

Boston is effectively off-limits to new living groups for "political and zoning reasons," Sherwood said. The Cambridge city council is also opposed to new groups residing in houses in the city.

"So now [Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56] is commissioning a three to four month feasibility study to see if MIT can build [facilities]," Sherwood said. Although the study is not yet completed, he said, "if we pull this off for Alpha Phi, this should be the last expansion."

Both Sherwood and Kharbanda agreed that Alpha Phi has housing priority. "If KDR is allowed to establish, it will in no way hinder Alpha Phi's acquisition of suitable housing," Kharbanda said. "We are willing to wait until Alpha Phi has acquired a suitable house."

Class demographics present additional difficulties, according to Sherwood. "Every year the number of women [in the incoming class] increases and the number of men decreases. Last year 25 to 30 percent [of the class was] female. That's great, but also the 28 male fraternities have more problems. They must rush about 50 percent of the incoming freshmen."

For this reason, "a coed fraternity ... or another sorority ... makes more sense," Sherwood said. Kharbanda said that a strong fraternity could only help the fraternity system.

Sherwood said that the KDR national "is not sure that KDR should have a chapter here," given the housing and membership difficulties. Kharbanda disagreed: "The national is behind us all the way."

A group must have 35 members and campus IFC approval to achieve "probationary chapter status" in KDR, Kharbanda said. After a successful probationary period, the national fraternity initiates the group as a chartered member, he continued.

"I believe we should have a [recommendation from the Expansion Committee] by the end of this term or early next term," Kharbanda said. "After that, we'll be voted on at the IFC general session. The next IFC meeting is next term."

"Now we are waiting for the IFC," Kharbanda said, "which is waiting for the Expansion Committee, which is considering the pros and cons."

Kharbanda said, "The IFC is where we're stuck. It doesn't seem to be going very well."