This year’s eventful rush came to a surprising conclusion with the decision of the No. 6 Club, MIT’s fourth oldest fraternity to disaffiliate with the Interfraternity council (IFC) and become an Independent Living Group (ILG).
The IFC president Alberto Mena ’09 regrets No. 6’s decision. He points out that No. 6, the MIT chapter of Delta Psi, brought immense diversity to MIT’s campus as an active IFC member and the only co-educational as well as literary fraternity at MIT.
Indeed, the fraternity had set itself apart with a large percentage of international students in its close-knit network of about 40 members and excellent academic achievements. It prides itself with a house GPA of 4.43/5.0 — in comparison to the fraternity average of 4.29.
According to information from No. 6 officers, the main justifications for divorcing the group from the IFC were fundamental disagreements over the rules enforced during fraternity Rush.
For everyone not so familiar with the administrative side of rush; there are general rules of conduct for fraternities to follow according to standards set by the North American Inter-fraternity Conference (NIC). Such rules cover general ethics as well as specific strictures regarding alcohol use or sexual assault, passing on of member information and numbers, as well as the principles of open expansion of Greek life on campus and open recruitment.
No. 6 believes the IFC’s ‘clearinghouse’ system to be an interference with the freshmen’s privacy and with the fundamental idea of open recruitment.
Ana-Maria Piso ’10 and Tom Kennedy ’09, two of No. 6’s officers wrote a guest column last May in this very section entitled “Stop Spying on Freshmen“ to protest the reestablishment of the Clearinghouse system.
The Clearinghouse system allows a fraternity to track the current position of any freshman by using an on-line rush system and to view the history of rush events he has attended. A fraternity can then request access to a particular freshman under established rules and guidelines.
This level of control and information, however, impedes the unbiased decision-making process of all parties and may unduly affect the behavior of fraternity brothers towards prospective members. No. 6 interprets this to be counter to the expectation every freshmen should have that they are free to explore all of MIT’s living communities without fear of somehow being exposed to prejudices and prejudgment.
Also, Sixers criticize the fact that Clearinghouse is designed as an opt-out — rather than an opt-in system — for the freshmen participating in Rush. In the end, the frosh are so poorly informed about the system that only a few take the opportunity to opt out.
No. 6’s offer to sign all existing IFC rush rules except Clearinghouse was turned down and became the decisive point for leaving the IFC. A request to the NIC for closer inspection and reconsideration of the so far accepted MIT rush rules has recently been filed and is pending.
To be honest, however, the question as to whether No. 6 is affiliated with the IFC doesn’t matter much. This administrative switch does not have a significant impact on either party.
The IFC will happily move on as a unified group. No. 6 remains a nationally recognized chapter enjoying all rights of a fraternity. The only advantage is that now residents have all the freedom to develop their strengths and own interests independently from national or campus-wide organizations.
Precisely this very personal flavor of having the power and ability to focus on one’s community in response to residents’ interests and credos is what makes No. 6 so attractive and unique.
This change is a victory for oases of individualism and originality at MIT. This year’s rush already bodes well for No. 6; With 14 bids given out and even more previously offered life-long bids pending, the club is looking forward to a bright future without Clearinghouse and the IFC.
Stella Viktoria Schieffer is a member of the Class of 2009.