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RCA Sets Timetable for President's GRT Mandate

Ying Cao--The Tech
Phi Beta Epsilon began the process of hiring their own graduate residence adviser before the Office of Residence and Campus Activites released its proposal for placing graduate student advisers in fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

By Brett Altschul
News Editor

Last week, the Office of Residence and Campus Activities released a proposal for placing graduate student advisers in fraternity's sororities, and independent living groups.

The RCA proposal, submitted to Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams, Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates, and President Charles M. Vest represents the first major step toward placing graduate resident advisers in fraternities. Vest called for tutors to be placed in FSILGs last December.

The proposal recommends that every FSILG be encouraged to have a resident adviser living in its house by August 1998. It recommends further that FSILGs be required to have resident advisers by August 1999.

It also calls for several restrictions on the resident advisers. Without a waiver from RCA, the tutors would need to be enrolled in an MIT or joint-MIT graduate-level degree program. Moreover, all the resident advisers would need to complete training organized by RCA and satisfy any other eligibility requirements set by the Institute.

The report also includes financial recommendations. It calls on MIT to reimburse the FSILGs for the loss of one MIT rooming contract. It also recommends that the Institute pay the resident advisers stipends to cover their meals.

Other proposals may also be forthcoming, Bates said. "There are a number of things in the works," she said.

It is too soon to see whether this specific plan will be implemented, Bates said. It is even too soon to say for certain that there will be graduate students living in FSILGs next fall.

"The proposal is still subject to revision, of course, before it is actually implemented," said Assistant Dean for RCA and adviser to FSILGs Neal H. Dorow, who wrote the proposal.

Employment question not settled

The proposal provides no firm plan for who should employ the resident advisers. It suggests that it would be feasible for MIT to employ all of them, like it does the graduate resident tutors in dormitories. However, it also says that it would be workable for some or all of them to be paid and supervised by their living group.

The proposal notes that both possibilities have their advantages and disadvantages.

The plan recognizes that by employing the graduate students, MIT is opening itself up to greater liability. However, it notes that MIT has an established system for hiring dormitory GRTs.

If FSILGs hire their own graduate resident advisers, on the other hand, they will better be able to tailor the position to their specific needs, the proposal says. However, MIT will lose a great deal of influence over the tutors, who may feel more beholden to their employer, the FSILG.

Grad students respond favorably

Vest's original call for placing graduate students in FSILGs worried many graduate student leaders at the outset.

The agenda for the Graduate Student Council meeting last Wednesday included a motion calling on the administration to clarify the legal responsibilities of resident advisers in FSILGs.

When the proposal was released, GSC leaders met with Dorow to discuss it, said Geoffrey J. Coram G, president of the GSC.

The plan dealt with many of the problems that the resolution addressed, Coram said.

The resolution would have forced the GSC to oppose placing graduate students in FSILGs until MIT produced a "specified list of duties for the resident advisors that explicitly excludes all law-enforcement duties not already applicable to every resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

The sponsor of the resolution, Omri Schwartz G, withdrew it voluntarily after the meeting with Dorow, said Michelle K. McDonough G, GSC vice-president.

The GSC felt the resolution would prove counterproductive at this point, Coram said.

"We felt that if we asked MIT to clarify it any more, they would have to clarify it in favor of making the graduate students more responsible," he said.

One fraternity, Phi Beta Epsilon took independent action before the plan was released. The fraternity requested the resumes of GRT applicants, with an interest in hiring their own graduate residence adviser, said Carol Orme-Johnson, assistant dean for RCA. RCA sent the resumes to the them, she said.

PBE officers could not be reached for comment.