Marlena Martinez Love has been promoted to assistant dean and director of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups. She replaces Kaya Miller, who left to accept a position with the national sorority Alpha Omicron Pi in Nashville, Tennessee.
Love is one of two new appointments in the Department of Student Life. The other appointee is Leah Flynn, who will take her new role as Assistant Dean and Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Programs on October 25.
Love has worked in the FSILG office for three years, serving as assistant director, and as the office’s interim director since June.
She loves the work. “Every day provides a different challenge, but in the end it’s really fulfilling,” she said. “The staff and students are wonderful, and the alumni care so much.”
Love begins her tenure in the middle of two high-profile fraternity sanctions: Phi Beta Epsilon and Beta Theta Pi were barred this fall from extending bids to new members. Love declined to comment on the specifics of those cases, but said she supports the judicial process of the Interfraternity Council and the idea of fraternity self-governance.
“I think peers are best able to decide what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not acceptable in terms of responsibility and sanctioning,” she said.
She added, “Every case has unique intricacies, but setting up a standard of expectations and following through on enforcement is the way to send a message to the community about our values.”
As dean, Love said that in certain cases of rule-breaking she would intervene through interim action. “In such a case of incidents or behavior that need to be immediately addressed, I would put the organization on suspension or limited privileges until a student-run judicial hearing could take place,” Love said.
A richer FSILG community
In her new role, Love said she hopes to “strengthen the FSILG community” and “to elevate the FSILG experience to the next level.”
“For example, what does it mean to be a member of a FSILG, beyond just living together?” Love said. “How does FSILG membership impact who you are in the long term, even after you leave MIT?”
She plans to address questions like these, as well as specific issues such as ensuring smooth officer transitions so that the incoming president, vice president, or recruitment chair can build on previous officers’ experience and knowledge.
“We’ve moved beyond the days of the three-ring binder; we can use technology to our benefit through historical documentation, for example to understand why rules are the way they are,” Love said. “I think our office can do a better job of supporting those transitions.”
Love was not the typical sorority member, she said. As a freshman at the University of Florida, she was sure she did not want to join a sorority. Later, after spending time with her best friend’s sorority at social events, she changed her mind. In her junior year, she became a founding member of her school’s Delta Zeta chapter.
At MIT, Love has witnessed highs and lows. One of her fond memories is of students racing shopping-cart “chariots” through the underground tunnel system (with helmets and permission).
But she also remembers the March 2008 death of Delta Upsilon senior Robert Wells ’08. “We lost a member of the fraternity community two years ago, and it was really jarring to be there with his family and his roommate,” Love said. “Personally and professionally, it was really difficult to work through.”
Right now, she will focus on hiring another assistant director to fill the job vacancy she is leaving. “Ideally, we will have found the replacement and have a complete staff by the end of the semester,” Love said.
In the long term, Love said she wants to look at “the sustainability and longevity of the FSILG system.”
“Where will we be in 10 years?” she asked. “In 20 years?”