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Houses Find RAs While Questions Lie Unanswered

By Susan Buchman
and Zareena Hussain
Staff Reporters

A month after the Institute first decreed the mandatory placement of resident advisers in fraternities, sororities and independent living groups by the 1998-99 school year, FSILGs, while in large part successful in the search for RAs, are still grappling with liability and financial issues that have yet to be clarified by the Institute.

An estimated 30 out of a total of 38 FSILGs have found a person to fill their house's RAslot, said Neal H. Dorow, associate dean for Residence Life and Student Life Programs and adviser to FSILGs.

However, while many living groups have cleared the initial hurdle of finding an RA, questions remain in the minds of house members about the financial responsibility of the house and the liability the RA would face as an officer of the Institute living in an independent house.

Key to clarifying this issue, some houses say, is an expected contract to be drafted by RLSLP.

A document is being developed and might not necessarily be a contract, Dorow said. It will "outline the mutual expectations" that the house, the RA, and MIT will hold. The final document will be signed by a member of the house's alumni board, a representative of the undergraduate residents of the house, the RA, and an official from RLSLP.

What is most unclear is "the role the RAwould play as an enforcement officer, whether he would have more responsibility than your average" resident, said Joshua R. Merok '99 of Zeta Psi, whose RA is an alumni of the house..

"They've given us general guidelines," said Mary C. Obelnicki '98, rush chair of the Women's Independent Living Group, whose RA is an alumna of the house. However, "we don't have a very good idea," of the details of the arrangement, Obelnicki said.

Other questions centered around the responsibility the RA would have to assume. "The questions were more for the RA himself" said John Shim '99, president of Theta Xi, who also tapped an alum to serve as an RA.

The RA is likely to be the one person next to the house president to be blamed if anything happens, Shim said. "If something were to go wrong would MITback the RA?"

Financial questions remain

Officially, houses have been promised the reimbursement of one house bill per resident adviser by MIT.

However, some houses have been assured that the Institute would pay for two housebills if the resident adviser had to be housed in a double room.

"The official MIT release is [MIT] would incur one housebill," Merok said. "Right now that's not fixed."

Some houses may be unaware of the policy change. Sigma Chi, whose RA will be a fraternity alumni from the Ohio State University chapter, is preparing to incur the cost of one housebill spread over the housing costs of all fraternity members because the RA will have to be housed in a double room, said house president Phillip P. Kim '99.

At Theta Xi, MIT is only covering the cost of one housebill while the alumni corporation of the house is using existing funds to offset any further expense, Shim said.

Houses have been informed that they will not be reimbursed for housing their RAduring next summer, although they would be required to house him or her during that period.

"For sure we accrue the cost of housing them over the summer,"Obelnicki said.

Despite the ability of FSILGs to cope with the situation of having to hire an RA, many are still embittered by the speed with which the decision was made.

"I think their timing is pretty poor," Kim said. "Most of the brothers were away for the summer."