The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 42.0°F | Fair

Pride's Remarks Exhibit IFC Ingenuity

Column by Anders Hove
Executive Editor

Yesterday's column by A. Arif Husain '97 ["Sig Ep Ad Should Make Frosh Wary," August 24] got it all wrong on Interfraternity Council President Jason D. Pride '97. In his column, Husain argues that Pride's attempt at blaming The Tech for publishing a Sigma Phi Epsilon advertisement lacked originality. Indeed, Husain went so far as to state that Pride could have done better by blaming the incident on his dog.

The fact is that Husain entirely failed to perceive the true originality of Pride's public remarks at the time. In the past, the IFC has tried to enforce its own rush rules. At times, they have called upon the help of the administration to enforce these rules. Never before, however, has an IFC president stated that he wishes to give responsibility for enforcing IFC rush rules to a random student organization. Furthermore, I never thought I would see the day when an IFC president would demand that The Tech (of all such organizations) ought to be responsible for implementing the IFC rush rules.

Now let's keep this issue straight: I'm honored that Pride thinks The Tech more qualified to administer the IFC's rush rules than the IFC itself. Indeed, I'm sure many of my colleagues are flattered that Pride has expressed the wish that The Tech would enforce the IFC rush rules on Pride's own fraternity, Sig Ep.

I haven't discussed the issue with The Tech's managing board, but I am afraid that if the issue is brought up at next month's meeting, we will probably have to decline Pride's offer.

I believe that The Tech should not be given authority over applying and administering the IFC rush rules for a number of reasons. First, we are simply not competent to administer the rules. We run a newspaper, not a policy-making body. Second, our status as a newspaper makes it morally and ethically difficult to censor any material which is offered for publication. Because Tech enforcement of IFC rush rules would imply censoring certain materials (such as the Sig Ep ad), I don't think we could agree to such a bargain.

Third, because The Tech currently pays absolutely no attention to the political content of its advertising, the screening and censoring of such materials would impose a staff burden on our volunteer membership. Because The Tech does not suffer for lack of money, it is difficult to see what incentive the IFC could offer for assigning additional staff to enforcing IFC rush rules.

Fourth, while Pride wishes The Tech to undertake the enforcement of advertising rules on his organization's behalf, he would not be willing to cede the necessary judicial authorities that go hand-in-hand with executive authority. For instance, The Tech would not be able to administer fines to offending living groups. Furthermore, since the IFC would retain judicial authority, The Tech would be liable for fines or other punishments if it acted improperly in executing the IFC rules. Even now the IFC may still find that the Sig Ep ad was not in violation of any rules; if we had censored it, we would be responsible for the error. That is a responsibility no sensible organization would accept.

The final reason I would oppose letting The Tech administer the IFC's rush rules involves the extreme respect I have for the IFC. I believe that the IFC should be a strong organization, able to stand up for itself and for its internal rules. Were the IFC to permit The Tech to censor fraternity ads in the name of the IFC rush rules, that would amount to an extreme cession of power by the IFC. I believe the IFC should have the power to enforce its own rules on its own members. It should not cede that power to others, ever.

The implicit admission by Pride that he himself lacks the power to enforce his own rush rules on his own fraternity is a sad statement about the current state of the IFC. If the IFC wants to be strong, it should either stop whining and enforce its rules on its members, or it should scrap the rules and go back to something the IFC can enforce. The IFC won't get anywhere by relying on others.