Female Residents Accepted At TEP
Female boarders are now allowed to live at MIT’s chapter of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity during the regular school year.
TEP decided to accept female boarders to help fill space in the house. While they will not be full members of the fraternity, the women will be allowed to live at the house for their entire four years or more at MIT.
Unofficially, women have been welcome at TEP for many years, but only recently have the brothers been interested in making the process an official one. The Xi chapter of TEP held extensive negotiations with the national fraternity to help get the idea approved.
So far this year, in addition to two male pledges, four women have agreed to live at TEP, three freshmen and one senior. The women are Tara R. Diduch ’06, Jennifer H. Olejarczyk ’06, Laura A. Hajj ’06, and Julee Y. Hong ’03.
Women considered ‘boarders’
In order to make the acceptance of women boarders official, TEP had to make a fine distinction between the men and women living there. Where the new males are known as pledges, the females who are or will be living at TEP are called “boarders.”
Because fraternities do not normally have women living in their houses during the school year, the Xi chapter of TEP had to negotiate with the national fraternity to officially allow female boarders.
TEP chancellor Jason T. Rolfe ’03 said the “national [organization] is entirely aware of our situation ... they’ve said there would be no problem.”
Frank Medwick, President of TEP’s Alumni Association, said that currently the national organization “had no official comment,” but that there are “issues that need to be resolved.” He said that over the next few weeks, they “will be doing major investigations into the public perception” of letting women live in TEP.
TEP plans on maintaining membership in both the Interfraternity Council and the Living Group Council, even though the LGC seceded from the IFC this past weekend.
Boarders help fill empty spaces
Part of the goal of letting women live in TEP’s house officially is “to help with the transition to the new rush system,” according to Michael I. Mandel ’04, TEP’s rush chair. While MIT is currently subsidizing the cost of empty beds for all fraternities and independent living groups, the fraternity is looking to fill as much empty space as possible for next year.
Having made the decision to allow female boarders, the brothers of TEP began to look for interested women during the normal rush period.
“I just ... went over there and all the guys were really friendly,” said` Female boarder Olejarczyk. “They’re easy-going and don’t have a problem with [women living at TEP] at all.” Olejarczyk, a freshman, said that she had moved half of her belongings to TEP and had already spent several nights there. Hong, the one new senior boarder, had been living at TEP already and will continue to stay there this school year.
Boarders have different rights
According to Mandel, an important difference between the men and women who will be living at TEP is that the women will not participate in the normal pledge activities or official fraternity business. The women will not pay national fraternity dues, although they will be expected to pay fees for room and board.
“In terms of friendships, we’re all in it together,” Mandel said.
In general, “We’ve wanted to have women live in the house for some time,” Rolfe said. “We think that the boarders program is a good program and will be valuable for both the brothers and the house.”