MIT Requires FSILGs to Select Resident Advisers for Fall TermBy FrankDabek
The Institute announced on Thursday that all fraternities, sororities and independent living groups would need to have graduate resident advisers starting this fall, at least one year earlier than had been previously stated.
Rosalind H. Williams, dean of students and undergraduate education told FSILG leaders of the new plans at a rush chairs meeting and also said that houses would need to be entirely alcohol-free beginning next month until they hired an RA.
Houses that fail to hire an RA for the fall may not be allowed to rush or house freshmen in fall 1999, said Associate Dean for Residence Life and Student Life Programs Andrew M. Eisenmann '70.
The change is merely "one of timing," Eisenmann said. "We had looked to have RAs in all FSILGs but had been acting on the assumption that it would have been a pilot program."
The Institute "recently reviewed our overall progress in enhancing our housing system and orientation, and concluded that we should stick to the original time schedule announced last December for placing resident advisers in the FSILGs," said President Charles M. Vest.
Vest said that the changed plan will "serve us all better than the reduced, experimental approach."
The decision to change the schedule was made by senior administrators, said incoming Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow '72. "Students have not been involved in the discussion."
Prior to this decision, next year was to be used as a pilot program to judge the effectiveness of the RA program. Participation was optional, and approximately ten FSILGs had expressed interest in the program.
Outside sources an influence
The decision to change the schedule for the program was influenced by a variety of sources, Eisenmann said. A recent article on the death of Scott S. Krueger '01 critical of MIT appearing in Newsweek, pressure from the Boston Licensing Board, and anecdotal reports from new students and their parents were influences in the decision. The board controls dormitory licenses in Boston, where most fraternities are located, and has oversight powers over those properties.
Vest echoed Eisenmann's statements. "Many factors were considered, including attractiveness of the system to parents and new students and strong, timely progress toward our housing goals."
"An RA is an attractive" feature in living groups for new students and their parents, Eisenmann said. We are seeking "the best environment for new students" he said.
Although Eisenmann identified the Licensing Board as an influence in the decision, "this action was not requested by either the Boston Licensing Board or the district attorney's office. It is the MIT plan established last year after broad discussion," Vest said.
While the board has engaged in discussions with the MIT administration, "we didn't tell them to do a specific thing," said ChairpersonEllenE. Rooney, who added that placing RAs in ILGs "sounds like a great idea."
A spokesperson from District Attorney Ralph C. Martin III's office said that he was unaware of any discussions between the office and the MIT administration. Martin's office is currently investigating Krueger's death.
Timing unfortunate for ILGs
Eisenmann said that he understood that the decision was made at a time when "it is harder for the houses to implement."
Vest said that the change represents a "positive opportunity, not an imposition. The timing is tight, but we must all work together for success in creating a stable, supportive housing system."
"The timing is bad" because a large percentage of house members are not available during the summer, said Interfraternity Council president Duane H. Dreger '99. "It would have been better if the decision had been made earlier in the term."
Dreger, however, expressed optimism for the process. "People have settled down and are trying to find someone," he said. "I think most houses are going to" have a tutor in place for the upcoming term.
"We are all struggling to make positive, mutually-supportive changes in our residential and learning environment," Vest said.
"Tragedy has focused us on the need to enhance what is best about our system and to eliminate its flaws," he said.
RA problems addressed
Some of the remaining problems in RA implementation have been addressed. The question of who will employ RAs has been settled over the past weeks. Under the plan, RAs will be employed by the FSILGin which they live, and not MIT, said Neal H.Dorow, assistant dean for RLSLP and adviser to FSILGs.
Most houses will likely be able to obtain liability insurance covering their RA, Dorow said.
"In most instances, having an RA in place is a good thing from an insurance point of view," Dreger said.
To further aid the process of placing RAs in ILGs a new position has been created in RLSLP. The new staff member will serve as a "coordinator for FSILGs" and will report to Dorow, Eisenmann said. The staff member will "support, recruit, and train RAs."
Training for the new RAs is also being planned. "There is a general training program for everyone involved in campus life" including GRTs, housemasters, sorority house directors, and now RAs, said Assistant Dean for Academic Services Carol Orme-Johnson.