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A Campus of Trust

Matt McGann

One of the most heroic events of last year was the Interfraternity Council’s rallying in support of Phi Kappa Sigma. After Boston’s Inspectional Services Division evicted the residents of PKS largely because of a political agenda, the IFC, in conjunction with the administration, circled the wagons and took action.

The “rallying” to which I refer includes The Rally, a 700-strong student demonstration last November on the steps of Lobby 7, a rally for both leukemia and our Independent Living Group system. There was even more beyond that, though. Foremost in my mind are the fraternities who, on little more than an hour’s notice, took in exiled Skullhouse brothers. Inter-house competition was thrown out the window in favor of a greater community. For that week, the MIT community was more real than ever.

I do sometimes fear the eroding of that cooperation and community, though. Last March, Kappa Sigma and Alpha Tau Omega both had sanctions levied against them by the Cambridge License Commission (for separate infractions) in the form of revoked lodging licenses. The kicker was that the period of revocation was to coincide exactly with this weekend’s rush period. This, the CLC correctly thought, would really put a hurting to these disobedient frats.

This certainly posed a problem to the administration and the IFC. Where would the brothers sleep? The declaration was that they would live in our own residence halls. At this point, many dorm residents were not too happy about this. The Dormitory Council along with the fraternities began negotiating rules for their residency. It was ultimately determined that the brothers would be dispersed among six residence halls. The brothers would only be allowed in the halls between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. They could be thrown out of the dorm by the Judicial Committee on two hours’ notice.

Why these harsh, byzantine rules? I believe it mostly comes down to prejudice and fear; a sizable number of dorm residents were apprehensive about living with fraternity brothers. Granted, some of this was brought on by the fraternities themselves: it certainly didn’t help dorm-frat relations when, say, a handful of ATOs vandalized Baker House earlier this year.

But were these rules really necessary? I don’t see a reason why a Kappa Sig showering in Burton-Conner at 9 o’clock in the morning would pose a threat to the dorm or to freshmen. I don’t see a reason why an ATO taking a nap in Bexley during mid-afternoon could disrupt recruitment. Does the potential for dirty, unethical rushing exist? Absolutely. But these fraternities, who are perhaps one step from the ultimate punishment, would definitely be extra careful. Beyond that, I truly believe we can trust these fellow members of our MIT community.

In a community of trust, the brothers would be allowed the opportunity to have a room to crash in, whenever it becomes necessary. Brothers would be allowed to live close together and in naturally large groups. The fraternities would be offered space to use for events in close proximity to their houses. When it comes down to it, we should treat others in our community as we would treat ourselves.

Often, we forget that a good FSILG rush is a good dorm rush. When FSILGs get a happy, large pledge class, it means less crowding in residence halls. Continued health of our living group system means continued health for our value of informed choice. And that is something I hope we can all agree is important.