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IFC group focuses on women's issues

By Reuven M. Lerner

Women's housing is the primary concern of the newly-created Women's Conference, according to Conference President Holly Simpson '92. She added that the conference, which includes representatives from the five coed independent living groups, three sororities, and the Women's Independent Living Group, "is basically focused on rush."

National sorority rules require prospective pledges to attend certain rush-week events at the same time as they "are going through residence selection," according to Neal Dorow, MIT's advisor to fraternities and independent living groups. This can create tensions between coed ILGs and sororities, which often compete for the same people, he said. The Women's Conference was set up to relieve some of the inter-group tension that can come out of this conflict, Dorow added.

Dorow said nothing is concrete yet with regard to sorority housing. But the current problems are caused by the "anticipation of sororities being housed." If the sororities were living groups, there would be obvious conflicts in joining "more than one," Dorow noted. While it is possible for women to join both a sorority and a coed ILG, conference members will discourage freshmen from doing so during this year's rush.

Charrissa Lin '90, vice president of the conference, said that she was happy to see the conference has "finally gotten off the ground," and that it should "improve the working relationship between sororities and ILGs." She noted that the InterFraternity Conference, of which the Women's Conference is a part, is "mostly male," and that the Women's Conference will remind the fraternities that women are also a part of the ILG system.

While it did exist in the past, the Women's Conference is now more successful and permanent, according to Kristin Newton '91, secretary of the conference. In past years, she said, it only existed for part of the year. This year, members signified their more-permanent nature by ratifying a constitution and electing officers, she added. Newton noted that past conferences had included "a lot of arguing and complaining about each others' rushes." This year, she said, "everything is going smoothly."

The Women's Conference is planning to do more than just mediate disputes, according to Simpson. It plans to mail out a women's rush guide during the summer which will tell incoming women about ILGs and sororities, she said. She also said that the conference is thinking of having a fundraiser, which would probably be held in the period between the end of rush and the end of Residence/Orientation Week.

Lin added that such an activity "isn't exactly planned," except that it will include "all different pledge classes."

Newton said the conference had planned to run a panel discussion on women's housing during this spring's Campus Preview, but they canceled it because the Institute was running a similar program. She was optimistic about running future such programs, however.

Just as the IFC doesn't sponsor activities, the conference wouldn't sponsor many activities, either, Simpson said. She said that the conference would provide information to women, but would leave most programs to the individual living groups and sororities.

Newton said that the "Institute has been supportive in helping get the Women's Conference started," including some funds for their activities. She noted that the conference's expenses were minimal because it is "not a major organization," and the participants are "all volunteers."

Simpson pointed out that the Women's Conference president is a voting member of the IFC Executive Board. She felt that the conference was a "great idea," and that they were providing important information to the incoming women students.