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250 attend Pledge 101

By Andrea Lamberti

Last Sunday night, roughly 250 students attended the first of a series of seminars designed to increase student awareness of increasingly important social issues, according to Neal H. Dorow, advisor to fraternities and independent living groups.

"Pledge 101" is an educational series sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, with support from the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association, which will address the issues of date rape and sexual abuse, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, "multiculturalism" and diversity, and alcohol education, through five Sunday seminars this fall.

The program is aimed primarily at freshmen in fraternities and sororities, but is not limited to them.

On Sunday, ILG and sorority members watched a "Greek Life" teleconference, broadcast nationally, which focused on issues relevant to fraternities and ILGs in the 1990s, in addition to problems faced by living groups today, such as alcohol and drug abuse, date rape, and hazing.

Many ILGs and sororities have sponsored independent education programs in the past, but this series aims to complement new member and pledge education with a more thorough, comprehensive discussion.

"In the past, [this type of education] has been disjointed. . . . [Pledge 101] tries to put everybody on the same ground on these issues," said Michael M. Ting '92, IFC public relations chair.

Dorow said the series came about partially "as a result of issues that have been raised not only at MIT but around the country." The series presents "perceived areas that fraternities might improve themselves [as well as] challenges that are facing society as a whole."

Pledge 101 is not directly a result of group insurance policy pressures, Dorow said.

The four seminar topics "are major areas of discussion in fraternity circles -- areas that perhaps all college students need to know about," Dorow said.

AIDS Response at MIT (ARMIT) is sponsoring the presentation on AIDS, and Student Assistant Services, the Office

of Minority Education, and the Campus Activities Office will collaborate on "Understanding Multiculturalism."

The MIT Medical Department will present the remaining two seminars -- date rape and sexual abuse, and alcohol education.

Anne L. Gilligan, MIT student health educator, has spoken to 45-50 percent of the ILGs at MIT on those and other issues, she said. But this is the first time a large-scale education effort has been targeted specifically for freshmen, she said.

Although fraternity members and the Dean's Office have expressed wholehearted enthusiasm for Pledge 101, some pledge educators said it will require some extra efforts to convince pledges to attend, and not all fraternities are making attendance mandatory for their pledges.

Daniel J. Rothman '91, pledge educator at Sigma Phi Epsilon, said, "With a little work [the series will] be successful. It's something new, and it's a change, and it always takes a little extra pushing" to get people to attend.

"I'm looking forward to it becoming a new standard for pledges at MIT," Rothman added. His fraternity made attendance for pledges mandatory. Ting's fraternity, Phi Kappa Theta, has also required attendance.

Chi Phi, however, is not requiring its pledges to attend the seminar series, according to Ariel Warszawski '90, pledge educator. He felt that "overall the idea is very good," but that attendance should not be required.

Warszawski said that "the main problem, as is always a problem at MIT, [is that] people have a lot of time constraints."

Sigma Kappa President Arlene R. Yang '91, said it is "highly recommended," but not mandatory, for Sigma Kappa pledges to attend the seminars. She said that Sigma Kappa has held independent educational seminars on subjects such as eating disorders and alcohol awareness.