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Vinegar For IFC Inspections

Guest Column
Dan Chak

I had taken myself off the ifc-talk mailing list weeks ago, and I’m no longer the treasurer at my fraternity, so I hadn’t had the opportunity to be bothered by the IFC at all lately. Until one recent afternoon, that is.

I was sitting peacefully in my room when someone supposedly from the IFC walked in. “I’m here to do a spot-check,” he said. He was accompanied by my rush chair, so I didn’t call the Campus Police to report an intruder, or knock him out with the shovel I keep under my desk for such situations. From my experience with the IFC, if I had told the spot-checker to leave and remove himself from my room, I would have been suspected of doing something wrong, and then as things go, my entire fraternity would have been penalized for some suspected fault of mine.

So I watched as my unwelcome guest looked through my things, checked under my objects for other objects, and pretty much made a pain out of himself. He then opened my refrigerator (I thought I should be polite and offer him something to eat, but as he had already opened the refrigerator without my permission I figured he’d help himself if he was hungry). As it turns out, I hadn’t been to the supermarket in a while, and all I had were some juices which didn’t interest the spot-checker much. However, I did have a bottle of balsamic vinegar which he seemed to take interest in. He turned it around to check the label. “It’s just vinegar,” he told me. I already knew that, it being my fridge and all.

Then he apologized to me. He seemed rather embarrassed all of a sudden, like someone might be if they were rummaging through all your things while you were out of the room and then you suddenly walked in.

I had an opportunity to think about this for a few hours, and what I’d write regarding the incident. I thought about how I’m 20 years old, how I have proven myself (like the rest of my peers here) to be a smart, responsible, safe person many times in my life, and how that is part of the reason we’re at MIT in the first place. I thought about how I had spent my morning at the Activities Midway telling pre-frosh about the High School Studies Program and how my friends and I all give up our Saturdays to teach high school kids, telling the pre-frosh how fun and rewarding that is for us, telling them to “Come to MIT!,” telling them how great MIT is, and telling them to join ESP and teach kids next year. And I thought about how when I was through with the Midway and the Open House we had for the pre-frosh, I came home to be “spot-checked” like an ex-convict on parole.

Then I decided I’d write to ifc-talk and complain about the IFC/MIT/fraternity relationship, which is much ridiculed, what with it being a laughable way for MIT to make its dictatorship and fear-mongering seem like self-imposed regulation at the fraternity level. What is with the IFC officers handing down sentences to the IFC “community” saying “It’ll hurt less if it comes from us than from MIT?” Laughable. So why waste my time?

A Cambridge law, stating that you can refuse entry into your house to anyone you desire not to be there, was passed to the mailing lists earlier this year. Well, of course, you can’t really do that if it’s the IFC. You might lose your rush, or get a negative rush-point-token-symbol. You have to always feel like an ex-convict having a parole “spot-checkup.” If that’s the way it’s going to be, if we 20-year-olds need Mommy MIT and Daddy IFC to check up on us and make sure our balsamic vinegar isn’t so old that it might be alcoholic, then so be it.

Next time someone comes to spot-check me, though, whether my Rush Chair is with him or not, he can expect a nice smack upside the head with the shovel I keep under my desk for just such occasions.

Dan Chak is a member of the Class of 2002.