MIT Selects New FSILG Advisers
Four Administrators Will Assist Fraternities, Sororities and ILGsBy Laura McGrath Moulton and Frank Dabek
Since former Assistant Dean Neal H. Dorow left MIT in September of last year, the Fraternity, Sorority, and Independent Living Group system has been without a permanent representative in the office of Residence Life and Student Life Programs. Now they will have four representatives, the result of a move that shifts responsibility for FSILG system support and advocacy to a group of administrators.
Two members of the new team have been working in the RLSLP office since last summer, but two new people will start work this spring. David Rogers, the new Assistant Dean and Director for FSILGs, will arrive at MIT on May 7. He is currently the Assistant Coordinator for Greek Life at the University of Connecticut, where he helps to oversee 20 fraternities and nine sororities.
Lisa M. Walsh, hired as Operations Coordinator, will start work on April 24. She was previously Assistant Director of Greek Life at Syracuse University, where there are 17 fraternities and 19 sororities.
Kate Baxter has been a Program Coordinator for the FSILG system in the RLSLP office since July of 2000. Denise A. Vallay has worked at MIT in various capacities for over four years, and has served as Program Assistant for the FSILGs since last fall. Vallay and Baxter have been working with Interim Assistant Dean Stephen D. Immerman and Program Administrator Ricky A. Gresh to design this new administrative team.
Team will expand FSILG services
The decision to hire a team of administrators to handle responsibilities which were previously managed by only one person is meant to increase the support services available to the FSILG system. MIT’s FSILGs continue to face intensified pressure and responsibility from both outside and within the MIT community. Baxter, the only member of the new team who worked under Dorow, said that having “one person support a 37 house system was exhausting and unrealistic .”
IFC President Rory P. Pheiffer ’02 echoed that sentiment. Although he remembers Dorow fondly and said that he “was always really good to us,” Pheiffer said that “it’s good to be starting fresh” with a team who is able to provide more support for the FSILG system. Pheiffer said the new group is composed of “four really good administrators” with “great leadership potential.”
Each of the four members of the new team will perform a specific set of duties. As the new Assistant Dean, Rogers will head the group. Walsh will advise the FSILG system on everyday operations, such as inspections, finance, and household management. Baxter will advise the student-governed organizations, including the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association, and the Living Group Council, and will help to organize events such as retreats and leadership training. Vallay will provide back-up advising and will focus on maintaining communication between the team and the FSILG system.
However, Vallay said that this team will work together rather than dividing the separate functions rigidly. “There will be equal assistance to all three communities from all four of us. We will be a solid unit,” she said.
Rogers said that as Assistant Dean, he will work with the new team “on a day-to-day basis” to support the FSILG system. “I am their advocate,” he said.
Communication will be key issue
Rogers said that the tension felt between the FSILG system and the MIT administration is not at all unusual. “No matter where you are, there’s the feeling that the administration is out to get the Greeks,” he said. However, he believes that in the case of MIT, “the support is there” for the FSILGs.
Baxter said that “the biggest challenge is communicating to members of the FSILGs that we’re here as a resource to work with them.” She said that the new team does not want to infringe on the “autonomy” of the FSILGs, but rather to encourage them to use the team’s services as much as possible.
The team arrives little more than a year before the FSILG system will no longer be permitted to house freshmen, a transition which promises to be challenging.
Rogers supports the decision to house all freshmen on campus by 2002 and said that the new recruitment model is similar to the one followed by other universities. At Syracuse, where Walsh worked, fall rush is open only to students with sophomore standing or higher and a cumulative grade point average of 2.0. However, spring rush is also open to freshmen.
Rogers said he understands the apprehension felt at MIT. “People are concerned because it is different,” he said. “They are afraid of what might happen [when freshmen can no longer pledge]. I’ll do my part to help them succeed.”
Vallay said that she and Baxter have already begun to help the FSILGs plan for the transition. They have been holding workshops and advising students. Starting in September, the team will plan monthly workshops which should help the houses prepare for all aspects of the new system.
No strangers to the Greek system
None of the members of the new team is unfamiliar with the Greek way of life. Baxter said that all of the administrators were involved in Greek life as undergraduates.
Rogers has been involved in student-life related administration for eight years. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lynchberg College and a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. He said that student life is “what I love to do. I’m excited to start,” he said.
Pheiffer praised the process which assembled the new team. The search committee included both four students and four administrators. Although Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict made the final call, Pheiffer said that “it’s good to see students equally represented.”