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IFC and GAMIT, BSU and PBE look for resolution

By Stacey E. Blau

A conciliatory attitude on the part of different student groups brought about resolutions to difficult and long-running conflicts this year. While some tensions still continue between the Interfraternity Council and Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Friends at MIT, and between the Black Students' Union and the Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity, efforts to work together to achieve resolution have opened communication and eased difficulties.

During the fall, problems arose between the IFC and GAMIT, but a series of meetings at the end of September helped to ease tensions. "We established really good lines of communication," said GAMIT Political Coordinator Joaquin S. Terrones '97. "GAMIT and the IFC never really had communicated before," he said.

"There's no agenda that we've settled on," but opening communication between the groups was important, said IFC Judicial Committee Chair Daniel J. Dunn '94.

Problems between the two groups arose during Greek Week in September, when the IFC objected to GAMIT's display in an Infinite Corridor display case. GAMIT posted a list of homophobic incidents in the Greek system at MIT over the last 15 years.

The posters were "a slap in the face," particularly because of the timing during Greek Week, Dunn said.

The IFC has been very pro-active in response to homophobia within the Greek system, Dunn said, following a November 1993 incident in which members of Lambda Chi Alpha spray-painted a homophobic slur in front of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity house. Following the incident, the IFC and GAMIT cosponsored a talk by gay activist and author Warren J. Blumenfeld in the spring.

The IFC also sponsored a diversity program during Residence and Orientation Week by comedian Karen Williams.

"We might get together to bring in a speaker," Dunn said. But interaction between the IFC and GAMIT is "not particularly substantive at the moment," he said. "We're talking a lot but not doing much."

PBE, BSU release statement

PBE and the BSU reached a resolution to their long-running controversy with the publication of a joint statement in The Tech on May 6. Several black students alleged that on Mar. 13, 1993, members of PBE "screamed racial epithets that are demeaning to black people on this campus and throughout the world," according to the statement.

The Committee on Discipline eventually concluded that racial epithets had been shouted but that there was not sufficient evidence to implicate the students charged.

"I think there was a mutual understanding that the details of this would never be resolved," said PBE President Joseph A. Veys '95. "We needed to put that behind us."

"We both agreed to disagree on the matter," said Tommie A. Henderson '95, a member of the BSU. "We don't fully agree that each [side] is truly telling the truth about what happened that night. We can deal with each other, but that's as far as it can go."

Henderson criticized the administration for its handling of the charges. The administration's "one concern is that a situation is over," Henderson said. "They don't care if things are going well. They just care if things are taken care of."

The BSU and PBE had agreed to work jointly on community service projects, but those plans "have not come to fruition yet," Henderson said.

PBE has "incorporated a lot of things into our pledge training on race relations," Veys said. Pledges were required to read Race Matters by Cornel West, a leading scholar in African American studies, and write essays on the book.

"I think we did focus on making the best of the situation," Veys said.