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The Sunny Side of Kappa Sigma

Guest Column
Peter J. Bluvas

When I was a freshman at MIT, one of my crew teammates, Scott Krueger, died of alcohol intoxication. This event has triggered sweeping changes in the MIT Greek system over the past four years that I have been intimately involved in. At MIT and other colleges, nationwide Greek systems have fallen under a great deal of strain and scrutiny. Stories of hazing, underage drinking, and other “Animal House” behavior dominate the media’s coverage of fraternities and sororities. Rarely, if ever, is coverage focused on the positive accomplishments of these organizations. I feel that the MIT chapter of Kappa Sigma provides an excellent example of how good news about a Greek organization is often ignored by the media.

As an undergraduate at MIT I was an active member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. This year, as a graduate student, I am Residence Manager for Kappa Sigma. Since I accepted the Residence Manager position at Kappa Sigma in September, I have been very impressed by the state of affairs at the fraternity. The press has done a very thorough job of covering the various negative incidents which have occurred at Kappa Sigma in recent years.

But behind the scenes, in response to all of these incidents, current Kappa Sigma members and alumni, MIT administrators, the Inter-Fraternity Council, former Residence Manager Jeffrey Snyder, and the Cambridge License Commission have all been working hard to improve Kappa Sigma’s viability as a mature living group. These efforts have, to my knowledge, not received any media attention, and I would like to present some of them here.

The fraternity has taken steps to promote alcohol education for its own members and for the community. Last spring, members put in over 300 man-hours volunteering at the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcohol Abuse Rehabilitation. In addition, Kappa Sigma held an Alcohol Awareness Seminar for its members and sponsored a workshop on High-Risk Alcohol Use on College Campuses for the MIT community. Kappa Sigma has been proactive in improving communication with the city and with MIT. Several years ago, MIT implemented a system requiring a live-in Graduate Residence Advisor for all of its living groups. Kappa Sigma worked with the city of Cambridge to expand this position, and was therefore a pioneer in defining the role of Residence Manager, which I now hold. Fraternity members also serve on the Cambridge License Advisory Board to provide a student’s perspective about alcohol on college campuses.

Last year, several members of Kappa Sigma worked with the city to establish the MIT Campus Alcohol Advisory Board. The objectives of this organization are to review campus alcohol policies and campus alcohol education in order to curtail underage drinking and create a responsible environment for MIT students. One member of Kappa Sigma continues to serve as co-chairman of this organization, while others attend meetings and serve on subcommittees.

The City of Cambridge has recognized the great improvements that Kappa Sigma has made. On October 16, Kappa Sigma appeared at a hearing of the Cambridge License Commission. The purpose of this hearing was not to take disciplinary action against the fraternity. Kappa Sigma had requested this appearance last June so that it could provide the city with a report on the status of its affairs. During this hearing, CLC Chairman Benjamin Barnes described Kappa Sigma as a “success story.” On Thursday of that week, when the Commission voted to approve me as the new Residence Manager, he welcomed me into a “new era” for Kappa Sigma.

Kappa Sigma is taking many steps to ensure its continued development into a mature, responsible living group. City officials, school administrators, and fraternity members are all criticized by the media whenever a negative incident occurs. For a change, these people should be congratulated and thanked for their efforts. I hope readers realize that many good things are taking place at fraternities and sororities, although they probably only read about the bad ones in the newspaper.

Peter J. Bluvas is the Residence Manager for the Kappa Sigma fraternity, and a graduate student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.