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Over Summer, MIT Sees Many Changes

While many members of the community were away for the summer and for Orientation Week, several important events occurred and decisions were made which will affect this term and beyond. These stories are reprinted here, in abbreviated form, for the benefit of those who were away.

Freshmen will live in dormitories

All freshmen will be housed in dormitories starting in the fall of 2001, President Charles M. Vest announced Aug. 25 after the Academic Council unanimously endorsed the proposal.

"This decision represents a major step in our commitment to enhancing our educational community and better integrating student life and learning," Vest wrote in a letter to students, faculty, and staff.

The announcement was timed to occur shortly before last week's release of the final report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning. The task force has been working for two years to develop a long-term educational plan for the Institute. The report will urge the Institute to house all freshmen on campus, said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams.

Vest's decision was made based upon the task force report and "nearly a year of thoughtful debate and correspondence about student housing." Vest also considered the reports of numerous committees that in the past have recommended housing freshmen on campus.

Although the decision to house all freshmen on campus has been made, the details of how the residence system will look in three years have not yet been decided.

This fall, students, administrators, alumni, and alumnae will begin to work on plans for the new residence system, Williams said, beginning with the plans for the new dormitory.

The decision came as a surprise to Interfraternity Council President Duane H. Dreger '99, who had attended a meeting with Williams earlier in the day about the task force report.

"[Tuesday] morning, Ihad told people from the IFC to ignore it for ten days and to focus with the issue at hand - rush,"Dreger said. "We figured we'd work on it at the beginning of term."

Dreger said that the FSILG system should be able to remain intact even with the changes. "The FSILGs have a remarkable ability to adapt," he said. "I don't think we'd lose anyone from it."

Advisers required at FSILGs

The Institute announced July 2 that all fraternities, sororities and independent living groups would need to have graduate resident advisers 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 until they hired an RA.

The change is merely "one of timing," said Associate Dean for Residence Life and Student Life Programs Andrew S. Eisenmann '70. "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, this school 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.

The decision to change the schedule for the program was influenced by a variety of sources, Eisenmann said. A June 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.

"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."

As of the end of August, nearly all FSILGs had found resident advisers.

Fiji license support withdrawn

Members of Phi Gamma Delta did not move back into their house at 28 The Fenway this fall after MIT withdrew its support for the fraternity's dormitory license.

"We still do not know what occurred on the evening that led to Scott Krueger's death," because of the length of the grand jury investigation into his death from alcohol poisoning last September, said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams in a letter addressed to Roderic P. Taft '74, a member of Fiji's alumni corporation.

MIT, in keeping with its standing practice, has deferred any investigation into the death of Krueger '01, and as such cannot determine whether to support Fiji before the Boston Licensing Board, Williams said.

Fiji did not automatically receive its license back when its seven-month suspension ended August 15, said Boston Licensing Board Commissioner Ellen E. Rooney, who chairs the board.

Instead, if the Malcolm Cotton Brown Corporation, the alumni group that owns the house, wanted to renew its license, it would have to file a formal application and attend a hearing. The board would take past actions and MIT's support of the fraternity into account when reviewing the matter, Rooney said.

"We understand that the consequence of our decision is that [the board] is unlikely to return the dormitory license to the fraternity," Williams said.

As a result of MIT's decision, alumni officials decided not to apply for a dormitory license to house undergraduates during the 199899 academic year, Taft said.

The decision not to support Fiji before the licensing board came in early July, said Associate Dean for Residence Life and Student Life Programs Andrew M. Eisenmann '70.

"We didn't have the information to act in support or in a negative way"before the board, which had indicated that MIT would have to take an "active and supportive stance" for renewal to take place, Eisenmann said.

The action not to support Fiji, then, should "not necessarily [be] interpreted as a positive or negative message," he said.

Licensing Board bans alcohol

The Boston Licensing Board banned alcohol at Beta Theta Pi until 2001 in August as punishment for a July incident at the house.

In addition to the alcohol ban, the board ordered the house's roof deck dismantled. It also banned the fraternity from housing summer residents next year.

Boston Police andBoston University Police responded to the house, located at 119 Bay State Road in Boston, after a BU cruiser was pelted by full beer cans on a routine patrol. Officers then broke up a party on the house's roofdeck.

One Boston University police officer, James Barry, was injured severely while avoiding the glass and required surgery for a ruptured disk in his neck. Barry has not yet returned to the force and may not because of his injuries, said BU spokesperson Kevin Carleton.

Members of the fraternity have stated that those at the party were all summer boarders and the boarders' friends.

At an Interfraternity Council hearing, Robert N. Tunick '99, a representative from the fraternity, said "we acknowledge that a premise control issue exists" but insisted that "no Betas were present, no Betas purchased or consumed alcohol."

The representatives of the fraternity also testified that it was not unreasonable that none of the brothers had realized the summer residents were throwing a party on the roof deck. Brothers cited numerous reasons for being unaware of the party until soon before the police arrived, ranging from loud music in their rooms to being in the fraternity's annex.

James B. Williams '99, a brother in BTP, was charged for serving the two kegs used at the event to minors. He was arraigned in Roxbury District Court on Sept. 2.

As part of its sanction of BTP, the board required MIT to report back to it by mid-September about the status of obtaining deputy privileges within Suffolk County, which would allow the MIT Police to have the same privileges as the Boston Police and the BU Police in the cities of Boston and Brookline.

StudentCenter tenants change

For the first time since its renovations a decade ago, the Stratton Student Center has changed dramatically. Over the summer, both Newbury Comics and the MIT Museum store choose not to renew their leases.

The Copy Technology Center will replace the MIT Museum in its first floor space this fall. Peter Cummings, business manager of the Campus Activities Complex, said that the MIT Museum store wanted "to retrench their business up the street. CopyTech was well prepared to come in and have spent a lot of time revamping their services including weekend and evening hours."

CopyTech, which already has two locations on campus, has signed a five year primary lease with a five year lease option, and will likely open around October 1, said Philip J. Walsh, director of CAC.

For now, the retail space vacated by Newbury Comics has not been filled.

One possibility was identified by the dining review working group when it reported that students felt there was a significant "lack of seating to support food areas," Walsh said.

In addition, the Undergraduate Association is currently campaigning for the Newbury Comics vacancy to be used as a social area for students. In May, the UA passed a resolution determining that whenever major renovations were made to the Student Center, the UA would involve itself in the changes, "to try to make the Student Center more of a student center," said UA floor leader Ryan K. Pierce '99.

"The idea is to make the Student Center a central location for social interaction." Pierce added.

Orientation changes modestly

This year's Orientation, while changing its name from the traditional Residence and Orientation week, nonetheless retained much of its old structure.

For instance, sorority rush was completely unchanged. The rules governing fraternity rush changed slightly, mainly to account the one-day delay in rush from last year, said Duane H. Dreger '99, president of the Interfraternity Council.

Changing the name of the period to Orientation was designed to mirror the apparent shift in focus from residence selection towards academics while introducing freshmen to MIT.

These changes include the one day delay of Killian Kick-Off, which traditionally marked the beginning of fraternity rush, and the introduction of several events intended to focus on academics, including a welcome dinner where students will be able to meet with upperclassmen and professors for their first official introduction to MIT.

The changes were designed to "make the first days leading into rush much better and much less hectic than in past years," said Matthew L. McGann '00, logistics coordinator for Orientation.

The introduction of the Residence Midway on Aug. 28 was one of the most significant changes from previous years. At this event, members representing all living groups participating in rush were on hand to talk to freshmen about their living options.

Freshmen and upperclassmen both arrived via controlled entrances to the event, which was closed to the general upperclass population. Each fraternity and independent living group was allowed to send 10 representatives; each dorm was allowed to send 15 members.

"It's a lot less intense and a lot more laid back," said Laurie M. Leong '00, who lives at Next House.

Fraternities and independent living groups were assigned spaces based on their rush points within the IFC, which awards points for participation as officers in the rush system.

More favorably ranked fraternities and ILGs were placed closer to the entrance for freshman on the second floor, while lower ranked fraternities and ILGs were placed closer to the exits on the first floor.

Other changes to Orientation include the elimination of two once-staple components, Project Move Off Your Assumptions and Thursday Night Dinners.

MOYA was replaced by a new Thursday program, Sports and Wellness at MIT, McGann said.

Following this event was a barbeque and a new program entitled Ba Fa Ba Fa, which was intended as a diversity training program, McGann said.

Rules governing contacting and mailing freshmen before their arrival at MIT were also changed from previous years. Fraternity mailings were combined into one summer pamphlet sent to freshmen.

Instead of allowing fraternities access to the list of incoming freshmen, each house was only given information about those who specifically expressed interest in that particularly fraternity via mail-in response cards.

Lottery results vastly improved

This year's lottery results are vastly improved from previous years, said Program Director of Residential Life Philip M.Bernard, who administrates the lottery.

No students received a dormitory ranked lower than third, Bernard said, and only 10 students received their third choice.

Last year, six students received their fourth choice and 29 students received their third choice, even though only 676 students were placed. This year, 744 students were placed in dormitories through the lottery.

More significantly, 85 percent of those entering the lottery received their first choice this year, compared to 69 percent last year, when some algorithmic improvements were added. In 1996, 76 percent of those entering the lottery received their first choice.

The principal reason for the improvements in the assignments were a variety of alterations to the lottery program written by Eliot S. Levitt '89, a former staff assistant in the Office of Residence and Campus Activities, which is now a part of the Office of Residence Life and Student Life Programs.

Levitt improved the algorithm used to assign students to dormitories by adding additional optimization levels, he said. In previous years, only one optimization was used; this year, the program then attempted to make two- and three-way swaps in order to further optimize the selections.

Crowding in the dormitories was initially increased as only 231 persons had pledged fraternities and independent living groups when the lottery was run. As a result, 16 MacGregor House lounges were converted into doubles to support an initial crowding level of around 175, higher than in previous years.

The use of Tang Hall as an undergraduate dormitory for 130 students has significantly relieved pressure on the dormitory system this fall, Bernard said.

Delta Upsilon sued in rape case

A woman who alleges she was raped at Delta Upsilon in 1996 filed suit Aug. 31 against both the Institute and the fraternity for negligence.

The suit alleges that the woman, Angela Colt, was served so much alcohol she could not fend off her attacker.

Colt sued MIT, DU's national corporation, and the chapter's alumni association, which owns the house. The suit alleges a "negligent failure to ensure the safety of those lawfully on the premises of MIT's fraternity houses."

Matthew B. Keller '97, the alleged assailant, was also named as a defendant in the case.

Colt, then 17, and a co-worker attended a party at the fraternity on Aug. 2, 1996. Colt's co-worker was a DU brother from another college living at the MIT chapter over the summer, according to the Boston Globe.

According to the suit, alcohol "was being served indiscriminately to minors including the Plaintiff."

The suit says that no one at the fraternity was checking identification at the door to ensure that those entering the fraternity were old enough to drink. It also claims that there "was no responsible oversight of the happenings at the premises by those in a position to control the premises including, but not limited to, MIT" and the other institutional defendants.

Colt reported the incident to the Campus Police four days after the DU party, according to a statement released by Kenneth D. Campbell of the News Office. "She expressly told [Campus Police] that she did not want to initiate any action against the man who she said had assaulted her."

The CPs have a policy of not pressing charges if the victim wishes not to.

Before filing suit, there was an attempt to settle out of court, according to Campbell's statement.

"In January, 1998, Ms. Colt's lawyer demanded a substantial sum of money from MIT. MIT declined to settle the matter because it believes there is no validity to the claim that MIT is legally responsible for this incident," Campbell said.

Victims of rape have the option of withholding their name from any lawsuit. However, Colt decided to use her own name.

"It's her hope that by taking this action, the responsible parties will take steps to protect those in fraternity houses," Colt's lawyer, Jeffrey Beeler, told the Globe.

Brett Altschul, Josh Bittker, Susan Buchman, Christina Chow, FrankDabek, Zareena Hussain, and Douglas E. Heimburger contributed to the reporting of these stories.