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MIT Shortsighted on Fraternities

The heavy-handed reaction of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, the Boston Police, MIT, and The Boston Globe to the recent on-campus incident involving members of Phi Kappa Sigma have finally pushed me over the edge, and compel me to express my concerns. The escalating “war” against fraternities is disturbing; I can only hope it’s not too late to stop.

Most disappointing for me is seeing MIT -- with President Vest at the helm -- continue to take a passive stance towards the fraternity system that is so vital to its success. The much publicized happenings over the past few years are not easy to sort out and I do not condone the mistakes that members of the greek system have committed. Nonetheless, it is sad to see MIT cower in self-preservation while the City of Boston, Boston University, the BISD and other community members swipe with impunity at fraternities and collectively paint an ugly, one-sided picture of these events.

MIT seems content to back this view by portraying greeks as an aberrance on an otherwise utopian campus, which is certainly difficult to reconcile with my own experience at the institute. Dormitory and fraternity life are more alike than distinct -- at least in terms of underage drinking and other targeted “dangerous” behavior. But no, better to blame a few frats than come to terms with the deeper issues facing MIT and the cities of Cambridge and Boston; cities where publications like The Globe are unable or unwilling to appraise fraternities without bias or backed by a shred of investigative journalism.

I expect this course of action to backfire and fear that in the long run, MIT’s short-sightedness in not protecting the fraternity system will make the institution less appealing to many potential students and generally diminish the quality and diversity of campus life. I implore MIT’s leadership to change course.

Certainly I for one will continue to redirect contributions earmarked for MIT elsewhere until I see the Institute more openly and honestly address its students and the surrounding community

Chuck Vest, fraternity men have helped make the proud institution you lead what it is today -- don’t forget them now!

Nate Boyd ’97