GAMIT, IFC Strive for CommunicationBy Daniel C. Stevenson
Tensions continue between the Interfraternity Council and Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Friends at MIT, but a recent series of meetings has helped to open lines of communication between the two groups.
The meetings followed a display in GAMIT's display case in the Infinite Corridor describing instances of homophobia within the Greek system at MIT over the last 15 years.
The IFC objected to the display case particularly because of the timing during Greek Week, said IFC Judicial Committee Chair Daniel J. Dunn '94.
The first meeting between the two groups, which was open to the public, was held on Thursday, Sept. 22 and was organized by GAMIT, according to Joaquin S. Terrones '97, political coordinator for GAMIT.
The IFC called a follow-up, closed-session meeting on Sunday, Sept. 25 to further discuss the tensions between the groups, Dunn said.
At the second meeting, Dunn, IFC President Prashant B. Doshi '95, IFC Vice President Brian D. Dye '96, and IFC Secretary Lizette Arce '95 met with Terrones, GAMIT General Coordinators Teresa W. Lau '95 and Chelle L. Gentemann '95, and former GAMIT General Coordinator Kristen K. Nummerdor '94.
The Sunday meeting was "a tense meeting," Dunn said. "You had people who had different interests who weren't used to talking to each other."
Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean and adviser to fraternities, sororities, and living groups, made a brief appearance, but left after objections from GAMIT about having an adviser at the meeting, Dunn said.
Doshi refused to comment on the meetings, and Dye could not be reached for comment.
Although IFC's initial concern was about the display case, by the second meeting "the issue had become how can we develop long-term communication," Dunn said. "Our groups up to now haven't really communicated."
The major outcome of the meetings was "an opening up of the lines of communication between the two groups," Terrones said.
Common goals and general expectations were also discussed at the second meeting, Dunn said. While the IFC and GAMIT do not agree on every issue, the IFC stands for many of GAMIT's goals, Dunn said.
"On things where we have mutual goals, I want us to work together," Dunn said. The principal issue is ending homophobia at MIT, he said.
"We can really work very well together," Dunn said. "We both have resources that the other can use."
GAMIT is looking to see if the IFC and GAMIT can cooperate on more projects, Terrones said. Last spring, the IFC and GAMIT sponsored a talk by gay activist and author Warren J. Blumenfield in response to a homophobic slur painted by members of Lambda Chi Alpha in front of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity house.
More recently, IFC sponsored a diversity program during Residence and Orientation Week by comedian Karen Williams.
The goals of ending both homophobia and violence against women in the Greek system were agreed upon since communication between the groups improved, Terrones said.
"We don't like negative publicity, and we wanted to talk to GAMIT about why it happened and what we can do about it in the future," Dunn said, describing the IFC's initial reaction to the GAMIT display.
The posters were displayed because "we wanted to show homophobia in the Greek system," Terrones said.
The display case, entitled "Greeks and Queers," contained eight posters describing homophobic incidents in the Greek system since 1979. The incidents included bad-mouthing of homosexuals and shouting or painting of homophobic slurs.
Samuel D. Hartman contributed to the reporting of this story.