David J. Hutchings ’10 and O. Russell Rodewald ’10 were elected president and vice president of the Interfraternity Council last Wednesday, Oct. 29. Hutchings said that his main goals for the upcoming year include fostering a spirit of interfraternity community and improving the image of MIT fraternities in the community.
Others elected were Thomas S. Lipoma ’11 as judicial committee chair, David B. Stein ’10 as recruitment chair, Ryan Andrews ’10 as risk manager, Daniel Chen ’11 as program development chair, and Clark D. Minor ’12 as executive assistant. Chen ran unopposed.
Hutchings, currently the IFC’s risk manager, takes office along with the other elected officers on Nov. 12, 2008.
All MIT fraternity members belong to the IFC, making it more than a thousand strong. Hutchings said that he hopes to build a spirit of community among those members. “What unites us is more than what divides us,” he said.
Controlling the image presented to MIT and the broader Boston community is another important goal for the IFC, Hutchings said. The IFC will emphasize fraternities’ civic and philanthropic work, he said.
Hutchings said he wants to help fraternities share “best practices,” as they learn better ways to solve any problems or challenges a chapter is facing that another may have already faced.
He will also oversee the organization’s tight self-regulation of recruitment and party rules. Hutchings said his IFC administration would continue a judicial process review committee, consisting of members of the IFC executive board, presidents of chapters, and any interested fraternity members. “The committee is reviewing the current IFC judicial process and will ultimately present suggestions for change to IFC presidents,” Hutchings said in an e-mail.
Input from his community is important, Hutchings said, and ideally “everyone understands why we’re doing everything.”
Hutchings and the rest of the executive board will ultimately be in charge of enforcing a policy that essentially puts Alpha Tau Omega on an extended probation. Underage freshmen were served alcohol at a Boston restaurant where ATO held a party during this fall’s rush, and some in the IFC took a dim view of the fraternity’s recruitment practices and looked critically at the damage caused to the fraternity’s house by a burst pipe. The damage has left them living in MacGregor House for the semester while their house undergoes renovations.
Under the policy, which governs ATO’s behavior for the next four years but most of whose provisions last only until 2010, ATO risks expulsion if it violates IFC policies or rules. Hutchings said he chaired the IFC ad hoc committee that wrote the agreement, whose terms the IFC discussed for six weeks.
Hutchings said the IFC has “made great strides” in revising its policies to match new challenges. After August revisions, the IFC’s risk management policies include clearly delineated requirements for size, admission, advertising, and monitoring of fraternity events, even if alcohol is not served at those events.
During this year’s rush, freshmen were offered new seminars in “how to rush” — what kinds of questions to ask a prospective fraternity, who to talk to, what to do, and how to be recruited effectively.
Recruitment chairs were also advised on how to refer freshmen to other chapters — if they thought a freshman might not fit in with their house but might do well at another fraternity they weren’t already considering, for instance. Hutchings said he hoped to encourage more referrals, as a way to help people find a good fit, and so that fraternity chapters would get used to working together.
Recruitment has continued to be strong even as MIT approaches gender parity, Hutchings said. “A lot of chapters are quite strong,” he said. This year, the total number of accepted bids during rush was 284, Hutchings said. Fraternity rush resulted in 317 new pledges last year and 299 pledges the year before. This year’s slight decrease could be attributed to the lost of No. 6, which left the IFC earlier this year, and ATO’s rush violations, which prevented the fraternity from giving bids.
The IFC controls a budget of about $63,000, of which about half is provided by MIT, according to the 2008 budget posted at mitifc.org.
The IFC’s new vice president, Rodewald, is the current president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, a relatively young incarnation of a fairly old fraternity. SigEp was suspended by its national chapter in spring 2005 because of low funds and membership. The fraternity returned to campus in fall 2005 and has been rebuilding since then. SigEp’s two houses in Boston are currently being rented out to boarders but some members are expected to move into the house in the coming fall.