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Depledge Numbers Reflect Residence System Changes

By Lauren E. LeBon


An increase in the number of students who depledged fraternities suggests that a few kinks remain in MIT’s new residence system, though few students transferred between dormitories.

Lawrence W. Colagiovanni ’04, the president of the Interfraternity Council, estimates that around 50 students depledged fraternities last fall.

That number comes from the between 290 to 300 students that Colagiovanni said pledged a fraternity this year. The number of pledges is down from around 350 in previous years.

Colagiovanni said that the number of depledges was higher than in previous years, but that the difference was not dramatic. “Since people are paying attention to the numbers [this year], it seems like it’s a lot more,” Colagiovanni said.

David N. Rogers, assistant dean and director of fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups was more optimistic about the direction of the number of students who would depledge. “Last semester, we knew of 35 [depledges] and there could be more for a variety of reasons,” he said.

Rogers said that though the hard numbers are not available yet, depledge numbers are likely to be lower than usual. In previous years, most freshmen depledged because they were living in a fraternity house that they did not feel fit them. This year, that factor is absent, and freshmen are depledging for reasons such as medical or religious restrictions over which the fraternities have no control, he said.

The fraternities hope to have a firm list of pledge and depledge numbers by April 1.

Many fraternities planned to begin recruiting upperclassmen more heavily to make up for the loss of freshmen pledges. However, the fraternities only received about half a dozen upperclassman pledges. Out of these, only one moved into a fraternity house, Rogers said.

“We need to get out of the freshman mentality; there are plenty of sophomores, and even juniors, who, given the chance, would join a fraternity or sorority,” Rogers said.

Rush chairs seem open to the possibility of recruiting upperclassmen. “We’ve never been exclusive as far as recruiting,” said Zeta Psi Rush Chair Ian P. Spivey ’05. “Since fewer freshmen joined this year there might be more sophomores who want to join next year,” he said.

Few change dorms

Between Aug. 30 and Dec. 20, 2002, 44 students requested a dorm reassignment. Of these, 29 were reassigned to new dorms, and ten cancelled their requests. By January of 2003, five students were not yet reassigned, said Denise Vallay, assistant director of undergraduate, summer residential services, and guest housing.

These numbers include regular requests for housing changes as well as the requests in the new December adjustment lottery.

“It’s hard to compare [this year’s numbers to last year’s numbers], due to the many changes in the assignments process and lotteries, plus we have vacancies this year in many of the dorms,” Vallay said.

More students are able to transfer between dormitories because of the vacancies. “There are more people moving, but there were the same number of requests,” she said.

The inter-dormitory transfers did not show any specific trends, nor did any one dorm show large losses. However, Vallay said that there were many students moving from west campus to east campus and vice-versa.

The new end-of-term lotteries have been implemented as the result of a 1999 report by Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 that required all freshmen to live on campus. The new lotteries were designed to “provide liquidity” and to allow students to move easily among dorms, according to a January 2003 report prepared by the Residence System Implementation Team

Sorority recruitment a success

Kaya Gerberich, the coordinator for fraternities, sororities, and living groups, said that “our numbers are very similar from last year, and we’re having better retention,” Gerberich said.

Rogers said that the Panhellenic Association did “very well” with this spring’s recruitment. The sororities received roughly 100 bid acceptances, about 20 fewer than last fall, Rogers said.

The Panhellenic Association is not as concerned about reduced pledge numbers as fraternities because, unlike fraternities, sororities do not rely on freshmen pledges to fill vacancies in houses.