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Letters to the Editor

Rush Story Projects Negative Tone

On behalf of the Interfraternity Council, I would like to express our dissatisfaction with your article in the most recent issue of The Tech (Friday, Sept. 1, 2006). Your front-page article, “‘Camping’ Banned and Gag Rule Repealed For 2006 Frat Rush,” contains not only serious typographical and grammatical errors, but also several misquotes. Some of your information is inaccurate, and I believe that this article was somewhat destructive to our recruitment efforts so early in the recruitment period. I understand that the issue has already been printed but please bear with me as I explain myself so that we can avoid more potential situations.

As a fellow journalist, I understand how stressed you must be, since The Tech has impressively produced an issue every day this week. I am not angry with the number of errors and incomplete sentences. However, I am surprised that this article immediately assumes what seems to us to be a negative tone.

We’ve been trying hard this year to improve the image of the IFC on campus, and an opening line suggesting that fraternity men are equivalent to strangers with candy is both unreasonable and possibly fueled by a personal dislike of our organization. I understand if you believe some “eager” fraternities’ tactics are sketchy, and I assure you that the IFC openly discourages such conduct. But please save your feelings for the Opinion section and spare the freshmen the front-page social commentary. Please give them a chance to explore the Greek system before you turn them away from us.

There are some corrections I would like to share. First (and foremost), the IFC is tired of The Tech’s continual use of the term “frat.” The term carries many negative keg-and-toga-era connotations, and to most Greek men in the country today, “frat” is essentially offensive slang. Please use the word “fraternity.” When I read the big bold title of your article, I was offended and disappointed. I do not know if you are aware of this issue, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. However, in the future, please refrain from the use of “frat” unless it is part of a direct quote.

IFC President Isaac J. Tetzloff ’07 contacted me expressing his discontent with the number of times he was misquoted. I understand he can check his quotes before print, but it’s clear that some of the quotes are not his and I see no possible explanation. For example, referencing the last paragraph, Tetzloff is a staunch opponent of the word “frat,” and he was incredibly angered to find that he was quoted using that word. Please be more careful when paraphrasing quotations.

There are some errors with numbers that I need to point out. You stated that “each fraternity [spends] at least $15,000 every year out of both pride and necessity.” This statistic is not only misguided, it’s totally wrong. I am very curious to know where you got this number. It’s possible that $15,000 is an average, but certainly not a minimum. Many fraternities spend less than $10,000 — “out of both pride and necessity.” Also, there are now 27 fraternities, not 26, since the reinstatement of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) in the spring.

I hope that the relationship between The Tech and the Interfraternity Council improves in the upcoming academic year, and that you understand why we are so upset with your article. Thank you for your time, and I appreciate your consideration of my requests.

Edward G. Fagin ’08

Interfraternity Council Marketing Director

[Editor’s note: Please see the corrections at the top of this page. It is The Tech’s policy to use ‘fraternity’ instead of ‘frat’ in an article and the one instance of ‘frat’ was due to an editing error. However, abbreviations are sometimes used in headlines because of space constraints. The reporter reviewed her notes and The Tech stands by the quote.]

Treasurer’s Clarification On Rush Views

I would like to thank The Tech for meeting with me to discuss the manner in which my views were presented in the article about rush spending. It is unfortunate that we did not see eye-to-eye about whether my comments were misrepresented or quoted out-of-context, and for this reason, I feel compelled to clarify the views credited to me.

The excerpt attributed to me states that because many fraternities are struggling, I am in favor of changing the rush culture and closing down “smaller” fraternities. This is untrue on several levels. While I do favor a change in the rush culture at MIT, it is not because fraternities here are struggling to keep up with the level of spending — rather, it is because I personally know of no other university in this country where members of the Greek system spend so frivolously to recruit new members. The point is that the rush culture at MIT warrants consideration in a much larger context. Also, I certainly do not support the forced closure of “smaller” or struggling fraternities. I clearly stated in my discussion with your writer that I believe enacting such a policy is fundamentally unfair. Representing my views as you did is potentially offensive to many members of the Greek community, and I want to emphasize that neither I nor any group I represent are in favor of such a disparaging view.

In the end, I continue to stand by my objections to the manner in which my comments were portrayed in your article. Nevertheless, I do sincerely appreciate having the opportunity to clarify my positions on these issues and am glad to hear that The Tech and the IFC are working toward maintaining an ongoing and constructive dialogue.

Kevin Cho ’08

Treasurer, Phi Beta Epsilon

[Editor’s note: After reviewing the reporter’s notes, members of The Tech’s news staff met with Cho to discuss the possibility of his quotes having been taken out of context. The Tech stands by the quotes as printed.]