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Task Force Discusses Rush, Unity with IFC

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Members of the Interfraternity Council and the Presidential Task Force on Student Life and Learning met Wednesday to discuss fraternity-related issues such as Residence and Orientation Week.

The informal meeting took place after the bi-weekly Interfraternity Council meeting. The task force is charged by President Charles M. Vest to evaluate and guide MIT's educational mission as the Institute approaches the next century.

Until recently, the task force had excluded Residence and Orientation Week from its scope of operation. Now, however, the group has decided to evaluate the effects of R/O on campus life and education, said Ernest A. Cuni '98, the undergraduate member of the task force.

The task force will be examining R/Owithout any constraints on its action, Cuni said. "It's within [the task force's] purview to make any recommendations" towards changing R/O, he added.

Spring rush opposed

At the informal meeting, Cuni asked fraternity members for their views on moving rushfrom its traditional time during R/O to the middle of the year, during Independent Activities Period.

Most of the fraternity members present opposed any changes in the current rush system. "We probably do take advantage of [freshmen's] insecurity when they get here, but Ithink it's better overall," said Marcus J. Ottaviano '97, a member of Pi Lambda Phi.

"Fraternities help in bolstering leadership. I'd hate to see it [rush] radically changed, and changing R/Owould do that,"said Thomas G. Schmidt '99, a member of Chi Phi. "Moving it to the middle of the year would change the makeup of fraternities."

Others, however, were in favor of limited changes. "One thing I'd suggest is extending rush" to give freshmen more time to investigate fraternities, said Jeffrey Hu '98, a member of Zeta Psi. "R/Ois a great time to introduce frosh to college life," he added.

"The best thing would be to change the system" so that students could move more readily between dormitories and fraternities, Schmidt said. "It's very very difficult to move out of a dormitory into an [independent living group]"after rush, he said.

Fraternity relocation discussed

The task force also asked the fraternity members about the ramifications of moving the fraternities to a new "fraternity row" on Vassar Street.

Those present were almost universally opposed to the idea, which was suggested as a potential way to unify the campus.

"Alot of fraternities have been in their houses for years. To try to move them to Cambridge would be terrible,"Schmidt said. Living in Boston "gives me a chance to get away from MIT."

There is a lot of pride associated with fraternity houses, Ottaviano said. Moving the houses would be detrimental to that pride.

Many said that the lack of convenient transportation made it difficult for fraternity members to come to campus. Better transportation could help in improving unity, said IFCPresident Iddo Gilon '98.

"Fraternities, whether they are here or in Boston, preserve their history,"Gilon said. "Maybe we should look into founding new houses"near campus, he added.

Overnight program discussed

To facilitate discussions about residential life, members of the presidential task force will be spending nights in several dormitories and independent living groups, Cuni said.

This way, everyone on the task force can get an idea of what residential life is really like at the present time, Cuni said. The visits will be accompanied by a series of formal and informal meetings.

The task force hopes that the meetings will generate enthusiasm about their mission, Cuni said. Hopefully, by visiting the living groups, the task force can receive input from a wider variety of people, he said.

IFC discusses recent publicity

During the IFC meeting, the council discussed last week's column in The Tech by Stacey E. Blau '98 ["Hypocritical Fraternities Embarrass MIT," Feb.25].

The IFC did not formulate an official response. Rather, the council decided on using other means to publicize its statement, Gilon said. "Idon't see the point in depending on someone who puts you down"to print a rebuttal, he added.

The council also decided not to pursue a lawsuit against the publication.

"Because it is an opinion, we'd have a very hard time proving it was libelous," IFCrepresentative to the Undergraduate AssociationStephanie M. Zielenski '98. "It's really difficult to call it libel," because of the language used, she said.

The IFCwill be publishing an issue of InFoCus, the IFC newsletter, containing a rebuttal to the column, Gilon said. In addition, the IFCwill attempt to improve its public relations. "What this really shows is that we need to let everyone know when we do something good,"Gilon added.

The IFCwas satisfied by the response to Blau's column in last Friday's issue of The Tech, however. "Friday's Techcouldn't have been better,"Gilon said.

The IFCalso approved its budget, including a possible $900 expense to include an information booklet about fraternities, sororities, and ILGs in the packet freshmen receive when they arrive on campus. "That way [the freshman] have a last chance to learn about FSILGs before rush starts,"Gilon said.