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Proposal Would Give FSILGs Financial Aid

By Brian Loux


Under a student committee’s proposal, the Institute would give FSILGs 80 percent of the fixed facility cost for each empty bed and half the fixed facility cost of fifth-year students filling spaces in the 2002-2003 school year.

The 2002 financial transition committee drafted the proposal requesting Institute assistance for fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups during the period when all freshmen move on campus.

The committee, consisting of students affiliated with the Interfraternity Council and staff from the Residential Life and Student Life Program office, presented its draft to the IFC President’s Council yesterday. The proposal was loosely based on a December 1999 report written by Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 during his tenure as Chancellor.

“We want the proposal to the administration as pro-student as possible,” said Kristie A. Tappan ’03, a member of the transition committee. “We are hoping get a lot of student feedback now.”

Bacow’s report used as guide

Bacow’s 1999 report, entitled The Design of a New Residence System, was initiated as a result of the large heated debate over the future of MIT’s housing policy at the time.

In the report, Bacow suggested that MIT could provide financial assistance by subsidizing FSILGs that house graduate students in their vacancies. MIT would pay back graduate students 80 percent of the living cost if they lived in an FSILG house, or MIT would pay 60 percent of the cost to the house should that bed remain empty. This support would decline by 10 percent each year for five years, when the assistance would stop altogether.

The committee has met since October 18 to discuss how FSILGs can avoid being financially crippled by the loss of a residential freshman class, and with it a substantial source of money. The committee is made of five student residents of FSILGs, two alumni, and three staff members.

At the committee’s first meeting, Rogers presented the group with a primitive revision of Bacow’s suggestions, which he wanted to use as a starting point.

“The Bacow report was pretty general, which generated a need for a committee,” Tappan said. “We needed to lay out the details.”

What was ultimately taken from the report were three guiding principles that Bacow concluded were necessary to answer the financial support problems.

First, the draft says MIT should aid FSILGs, “but not do so in a way that creates financial dependency on the Institute.”

The proposal incorporates Bacow’s idea of phasing out the plan over a five year period. “Money is not going to be a crutch, but a support to help [FSILGs] in the transition,” Rogers said.

Second, “the transition support should be provided in a form that does not reward houses that recruit badly, or punish houses that recruit well,” the report states.

Finally, the committee asks that the Institute’s policy recognize the changing demographics of MIT, especially the growing number of five-year MEng students.

Rogers views the report as a springboard for policy. “It was clear that MIT would support FSILGs during the transition,” he said. “How they would do so was unclear.”

Rogers noted that the current student proposal would give more to the FSILGs than what Bacow asked for in his report, giving the house a greater incentive to recruit graduates.

The committee is planning to present a final proposal for approval to the Residence System Implementation Team in mid-November. The RSIT will also hear other proposals form other committees addressing other issues regarding the freshmen transition.

The proposal sent Thursday was written jointly by committee member Christopher A. Voehler ’03 and Rogers. “The students did all the work,” Rogers said of the draft.