Uncertain Funding Vexes ILG Resident Tutor Pilot ProjectBy Frank Dabek
A pilot program to place graduate resident tutors in independent living groups is proceeding, but questions are already being raised about who will fund the Institute's mandate requiring all ILGs to have tutors by 1999.
The office of Residence and Campus Activities has been allocated enough money to reimburse six houses for tutor expenses this year, said Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean and advisor to fraternities,sororities, and independent living groups, but additional funding for the pilot program and funding beyond this year is uncertain.
Dorow said that "a good number [of ILGs] have expressed interest in participating in the pilot program." However, he said that "we have tentative approval for six participants" to receive funding. According to Dorow, RCA will "reimburse each of the living groups for the cost of one house bill." The tutors "would be provided room and board [by] the house in return for the house bill provided by us."
The limited nature of funding for the pilot program could leave some houses paying the cost of participating in the experimental program.
"If more than six houses express a sincere interest I hope that we can work something out," Dorow said. Given the uncertainty of finding funding, however, Dorow said that "maybe some of them wouldn't get reimbursement."
Funding for the program beyond this first year is uncertain as well. "One consideration is applying this reimbursement across the board," said Dorow. It is not certain whether such funding will be available, he said.
Regardless of how much funding is available, Dorow said that the "reality is that in 1999 every house is expected to have a residential advisor with or without the money."
Participants hope for funding
For houses hoping to participate in the pilot program, the loss of a house bill is a serious concern.
Tau Epsilon Phi Chancellor Farhad A. Ebrahimi '00 said that TEPhad someone in mind to act as a GRT and was expecting to be compensated for the house bill of its tutor if it chooses to participate in the pilot program. Ebrahmim called the possibility that funding would not be available "less than ideal" and said that "if they're going to impose something on us, it's at least nice that they should pay for it."
He called the program "an inevitability," however, and said that the house was participating in the hopes of "doing our best to shape what it's going to be like."
Eve M. Phillips '98, president of Alpha Phi, said that her house was also considering participating in the program. AP, like other sororities, already has a "house director" which would be acceptable to the administration as a way to satisfy the tutor requirement, but Phillips said that the house would probably hire another individual to fill the role. She said that paying the cost of the tutor "would be a problem because our budget is so tight."
While noting these concerns Dorow said that in some cases finding space for a GRT is "not a real cost" since many houses have open rooms. Dorow noted, however, that the ILGs could be subject to the loss of revenue corresponding to an additional house bill if they place tutors in doubles.
System needs changes to fit ILGs
The stipend provided to GRT's in the dormitory system is an additional complication in allocating funding for ILGs. This stipend amounts to approximately $600 a term, said Assistant Dean for RCA Carol Orme-Johnson. The stipend is intended to be used to partially cover the cost of meals for tutors.
RCA hopes that tutors in ILGs will be accommodated like tutors in the dormitory system, but the diversity of ILGs may make that difficult. Some ILGs provide meals as part of the house bill while others charge on a per meal basis. As a result of these complications, Dorow said that reimbursement will be done "on a case-by-case basis." "We want to be as flexible on this as possible," he said.
The source of funding for GRTs in the dormitory system may also play a role in the decision to fund the ILG tutors. Phillip M. Bernard, dean of students for RCA, said that the house bill and stipend for GRTs are paid by RCA to the housing and food services department.
Whether those funds come from general institute accounts or from dormitory house bills is less clear. Orme-Johnson said that accounting practices make the funds "all part of the same pool of money." Funding ultimately comes from Provost Joel Moses, but Orme-Johnson said that "there is more money that comes from dorm house bills than is spent" on the dormitories. Whether some of that excess is used for the GRT program is up to interpretation, she said.
In the end, "It's all MIT's money," she said.