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MIT Considers Additional FSILG Housing Projects in Cambridge

By Ray C. He

MIT is considering the possibility of building housing for fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups that wish to move into Cambridge or do not currently have their own houses.

Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 and Executive Vice President John R. Curry head the committee investigating this. The committee “has to do with understanding what we have in housing need, in housing asset, and in housing opportunity within the foreseeable future,” said Stephen Immerman, senior associate dean of student life.

“The whole thing about ... potential relocation to campus is initiated and driven by alumni who made continual requests for MIT to look at it,” Immerman said.

Study covers many factors

Immerman said the study examines the various categories of people at MIT, such as undergraduates, graduates, married students, and faculty.

“We then look at what we have for resources, what we have for land, what we have for assumptions on the campus plan, what buildings can be renovated, and what current buildings need to be renovated,” he said.

Other factors include housing density, amenities, campus travel, and financing.

“Several years ago, we did a feasibility study about whether or not it made sense to move fraternities into Cambridge,” said Immerman. “We came up with a generic model for an imaginary FSILG and what the economic model would look like,” he said.

While this previous feasibility study was halted because of lack of possibilities for housing location, the current study is following a similar model in determining the needs of an FSILG house. The potential housing location has not yet been determined, but Vassar street is a strong possibility.

Capital considered in new study

Financing a project as large as a new facility for an FSILG requires a significant amount of capital. In the previous study, the proposed contributors were to be the FSILG, the Independent Residence Development Fund, and MIT, Immerman said.

In “the original model ... MIT will make land available and maybe some infrastructure for central utilities, Immerman said.

By this original model, moving FSILGs would sell their property in Boston and use the money for the new construction. The remaining costs would be split between MIT and alumni corporations, which own the houses, he said.

The IRDF is a program set up by the MIT Treasurer’s Office to make low-interest loans and grants to FSILGs. The program’s funds come from tax-deductible donations. “In the past, the university has helped individuals buy property through the IRDF,” said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict.

The committee is far from making a decision, having only met in its entirety for two sessions. “The decision-making process is long and strategic,” said Immerman. “As you know, right now, given the current economic conditions, that many, many things are on hold.

He said that he could not guess when the next housing development project might begin.

The final decision to act on the conclusions of the housing feasibility study will be made by the Building Committee, which consists of senior officers, deans, and members of the MIT Corporation.

Sorority seeks own house

One FSILG interested in having its own house is the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, whose sisters currently live at Sydney-Pacific. “Our facility corporation president, Alicia Allen, spoke to Dean Benedict [about] the possibility of getting a house eventually,” said Sarah S. Rhee ’04, president of Kappa Alpha Theta.

“Under our understanding, we’re going to be guaranteed housing in Sidney-Pacific until they find a house to lease from MIT or they build us one, mostly likely on Vassar Street,” Rhee said.

“Certainly it is true that Vassar Street is a target for future housing development,” Immerman said.

The size of a possible Theta house is in question. “We’d love to have as many sisters as possible to live there, but I don’t think they’re planning to build us a house for eighty sisters,” Rhee said.