Six MIT independent living groups (ILGs) -- Epsilon Theta, Fenway House, pika, MIT Student House, the Xi Chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi, and the Women's Independent Living Group -- have formed the MIT Living Group Council (LGC). The LGC is intended to enable member houses to discuss common concerns and to be more active participants in Institute affairs.
At its second meeting on May 3, the LGC elected Epsilon Theta's Grant Gould, a junior in electrical engineering and computer science, as speaker pro tempore; freshman Jennifer Berk of WILG as secretary; and Sarah McDougal, a sophomore in civil and environmental engineering and a Fenway House resident, as treasurer. Elections for moderator and a permanent speaker are still pending.
Historically, LGC member houses have been less active in the Interfraternity Council (IFC), which is the umbrella organization for all fraternities, sororities and independent living groups (FSILGs) at MIT. As a group of houses with concerns different from traditional fraternities, the voices of these living groups are often lost in the 39-member IFC, LGC members say.
By joining together, and in cooperation with the IFC Executive Committee, the members of the LGC hope to play a larger role within the IFC and within the greater MIT community. This involvement will include action on such issues as graduate resident tutors, orientation and rush, alcohol policy and medical transportation. The organization will also allow member houses to exchange ideas on issues pertaining to cooperative living.
The LGC's role within the IFC is intended to parallel that of the PanHellenic Council, which represents MIT's five national sororities. The name "Living Group Council" (as opposed to "Independent Living Group Council") was deliberately chosen to avoid excluding any groups which may elect to join the organization in the future.
The impetus behind the Council's creation was the idea that a formal organization was necessary to ensure the continued activity of the "ilg-talk" movement. After the alcohol-related incidents of last fall, the ilg-talk mailing list was used as a forum for concerned individuals to coordinate activism on various issues. Many list participants (including students, alumni/ae and faculty) were affiliated with the six ILGs which have since joined the LGC. In cooperation with leaders of the IFC, various faculty members and key administrators, the group played a prominent role in the effort to reform policies on alcohol, housing and orientation.
Members of ilg-talk lobbied on behalf of reform efforts and facilitated an intense exchange of information and ideas among students, alumni/ae, faculty, staff and administrators. The group distributed an informative mailing to all faculty, which attempted to dispel popular myths about MIT's housing system, and presented its proposal to reform Residence/Orientation (R/O) Week. Many of the group's ideas were incorporated into official recommendations and policies, including the "three strikes" alcohol enforcement policy and a comprehensive R/O reform plan.
With diminishing media attention on MIT, and the completion of many aspects of the reform effort, ILG residents who had participated in the ilg-talk movement realized that a more permanent, formal organization would facilitate continuing activism. However, the LGC -- an association of houses, as opposed to individuals -- is also intended to address concerns unrelated to recent controversies, especially everyday issues specific to nontraditional houses.
The LGC will be approaching the IFC and the MIT administration, seeking to establish new channels of communication and opportunities for cooperation.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 13, 1998.