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Christopher Child New IFC President for 2005

Child Will Work to Increase Fraternity System Unity

By Kathy Lin

NEWS EDITOR

Christopher P. Child ’06 was elected as the next Interfraternity Council President at the IFC Executive Board elections this past Wednesday.

The newly elected officials will take over in three weeks, at the final IFC meeting of the term. From now until January, the new executive board will be transitioning into their positions, said IFC Vice President-elect Jordan K. Fabyanske ’06.

Child and Fabyanske have several goals for the coming year, mostly geared toward communication and cooperation. Child said he doesn’t want to “change anything too drastically” from the ways things have been done at the IFC, and instead continue to “go along the same road.”

However, the new executive board has not met together yet, so they “haven’t had a chance to sort out [their] views” as a group, Fabyanske said. Nonetheless, he said he is “not too concerned about dissonance” and thinks it will be a “really productive year with a strong group of guys.”

The new executive committee is “really motivated and has a lot of excitement, which are the most important qualities” said outgoing IFC President Daniel H. Daneshvar ’05.

New committee wants unity

One main goal of the new executive committee is to “foster a more cooperative spirit among fraternities at MIT,” Fabyanske said.

“Rush fosters an atmosphere of competition,” because the fraternities are all competing for the same pool of students, Child said. He said he wants the the IFC to work towards greater cooperation during and after rush.

“The new executive board is very committed to working on projects to bring all our chapters together,” Pennington said. In particular, he believes fraternity relationships can be can be improved by small events that involve several fraternities at a time, such as Friday afternoon socials with multiple chapters, fraternity-based athletic events, and an IFC/Panhel formal. “Hopefully we will be creative,” Pennington said.

Child, echoing the sentiment of hosting “events between houses,” suggested Halo tournaments as a possible bonding activities. In the past, houses would invite several houses over for events, which would help forge relationships that strengthen both individual fraternities and the entire fraternity system, Child said.

The IFC would “put out the idea” of having these activities to encourage fraternities to bond with each other in this way, though they “won’t force anyone to do it,” Child said. “A lot of houses have expressed interested” in the idea and are excited about it, he said.

Fabyanske would like to continue to emphasize involving non-fraternity president members with the IFC. For example, he “would like to continue and maybe expand” the delegate council meetings program started last year, through which each fraternity sent one delegate to a meeting every week. This kept fraternities in touch with each other and “helped keep the houses even more informed,” Fabyanske said.

In addition, Fabyanske and Pennington will be working together on creating a Greek convention, essentially a leadership workshop, which will bring together one to two representatives from each fraternity and each sorority, Pennington said.

IFC wants better communication

Another major goal of the IFC is to increase communication on several levels -- amongst fraternities, between fraternities and administrators, and between fraternities and alumni -- Fabyanske said.

This effort will include “a lot of little things,” such as “keeping in touch with administrators through weekly meetings,” Fabyanske said.

“Relationships with administrators is always an important thing” and is a “cornerstone to success” for the IFC, Daneshvar said.

Child said he feels there is “a lot of animosity between dorms and fraternities,” and he plans to work with the Undergraduate Association and the Dormitory Council to improve those relations. Part of the plan is to have events targeted at both affiliated and non-affiliated male students, he said. “It doesn’t help anyone when we have animosity,” he said.

IFC works for more credibility

Fabyanske said another priority for the IFC will be improving its credibility in the eyes of both the fraternity members and administrators, through public relations and maintaining the risk management program.

“Right now, the administration doesn’t see the IFC as having a whole lot of credibility,” Child said. “The administration has its own set of goals” which are often, but not always, aligned with the IFC’s. “The IFC hasn’t worked with them as closely as possible,” and a better relationship with the fraternities would help, he said.

“Every fraternity is in financial trouble now,” Child said, so it is particularly “important to have the school on our side.”

On the other hand, Daneshvar said he thinks the IFC has gained more credibility with the administrators by “keeping promises throughout the year,” such as staying dry during rush.

New execs hope for sustainability

The number of fraternity pledges has been roughly level since the freshmen on campus rule was imposed in 2002, but the number of fraternity members living in fraternities has decreased, Child said, and this has “hurt all houses immensely.”

“Hopefully no fraternities will have to shut down,” although it is “definitely possible,” Child said. “We want to aid fraternities as much as possible,” he said.

Fraternities are sustainable now, but they “need to increase numbers to prosper,” he said. “In the short term, the numbers probably won’t grow much,” but “long term growth is more likely.”

Adam J. Miller ’07, the newly elected IFC risk manager, said he anticipates “a big bounce back in the right direction this year” for fraternities, in terms of the numbers of students who pledge and who move to fraternities.

Each year since the freshmen on campus rule took effect in 2002, “we’ve done rush a little differently,” Miller said. “Now that we’ve had a few years, we can” learn from experience and have a very successful rush this coming year, Miller said.

“We need more of an emphasis on recruitment,” Fabyanske said, with changes in both practices and mentality. He said he believes that with the right tactics, they “can get the numbers back to where they used to be.”

Some fraternities have been pushing for year-round recruitment or rush during the Independent Activities Period, Child said. If either of these programs happens, they will “not nearly be as intense” as fall Rush, he said.

Risk management consultation

The IFC created a new risk management system this year which seems to have worked well and will be a major project that continues next year.

Under the system, risk management consultants -- all students -- attend all wet parties registered with the IFC, Fabyanske said. The risk management consultants tell the fraternity and the IFC risk manager if there is a rule infraction and give advice about how to make the parties safer, Miller said. The risk manager works “with the fraternity to help them stop breaking the rule,” Miller said.

“If it’s something you need to take care of right away to keep people safe, then action will be taken right away,” Miller said. The IFC judicial committee will only be involved “if a house makes it clear to me they’re not going to help me keep people in their house safe and responsible,” Miller said.

“The system has been very successful,” and the party situation has “gone from a point where houses didn’t register parties because they were afraid of the administration,” Miller said. “Now they’re working with administrators... and frats are a really safe place to party,” he said.

“The current risk management system is a great program,” Child said, and “I really want it to continue... Overall, it did a great job last year.”

There is room for improvement, though. Miller said his “primary goal will be to increase communication between the risk manager and the houses so that every house know the rules and how exactly to follow rules.”

“There is a written set of rules, but the problem is that in the past, some houses have been confused about the set of rules they’re supposed to follow and how to follow them,” Miller said.

“The opinion of each of the head risk managers and risk management consultants affects the ways the rules are applied to the houses.”

To fix the problem, he wants to have “more direct contact between me and the presidents,” and for houses that have questions about rules to talk to him directly rather than through the four head risk managers, as they have been doing so far “so all the houses get the exact same information about the rules and the enforcement of the rules.”

Miller also needs to work towards assuring fraternities that “risk managers aren’t there to punish them but to help them,” Daneshvar said.

The system seems to have worked, as the IFC Judicial Committee only handled two cases this semester, both for minor infractions, which is a significant improvement over past semesters, Daneshvar said. The IFC has gained more credibility through its risk management consultation program, Fabyanske said.

“Severe punishments hurt every fraternity,” Child said, because they “cast a bad light over the entire fraternity system” since people outside the system “don’t realize how diverse fraternities are” and just lump them all together, he said.