ATO Members Housed in MacGregor as Fraternity Bldg. Undergoes Repairs

Most members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity are temporarily being housed in MacGregor House suite lounges while their house undergoes repairs to reverse water damage caused by a burst pipe at the end of July.

According to ATO President Chisoanya O. Ibegbu ’09, trash and debris had accumulated over time on ATO’s roof and found its way into the drain pipe system, building up pressure and causing the incident.

Summer residents of the fraternity were placed in vacant rooms in Next House and a Boston-side fraternity after the water damage occurred.

Now that students are returning to campus, though, MIT Housing has provided emergency accommodations for the majority of ATO brothers by converting lounges in some of MacGregor’s suites into doubles.

Entries A, B, C, and D in the high-rise side of MacGregor each have three or four lounges being used as rooms for the ATO members, said Professor Munther Dahleh, MacGregor’s housemaster.

The ATO fraternity has 34 active brothers, according to Ibegbu. MacGregor is providing room for 24 ATO members and their alumni residence adviser. The remaining 10 members are being housed in Delta Kappa Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi, and Baker House, Ibegbu said.

Concerns about whether ATO’s presence in MacGregor would influence the dormitory’s Residence Exploration activities were brought up before the ATO fraternity members started moving in.

Dahleh said that measures were taken to make it very clear to incoming freshmen that the rooms housing ATO members were not representative of MacGregor’s culture.

MacGregor President Kristen M. Felch ’09 said that the situation did not affect MacGregor’s REX.

Dormitory Council President James Torres ’10 could not be reached after multiple requests for comment.

Other worries revolved around whether culture clashes between the two living groups might ensue.

“We’ve had meetings between the entry chairs with the ATO brothers, and we set up specific policies that will be followed,” Felch said. “We haven’t had any complaints and the situation is working out fine. As far as imposing on our culture or lifestyle, I haven’t seen anything negative.”

Yiwei Zhang ’09, co-chair of MacGregor’s A-Entry (and also a staff reporter for The Tech) said that most people did not have a problem with hosting the ATO members. “I think some people have problems with the way the administration handled things and how the students were told about the situation,” Zhang said.

According to Zhang, many students use MacGregor’s suite lounges as a place to store items over the summer. While converting suite lounges into doubles, movers took all of the students’ things into the basement of MacGregor without warning, and residents did not have time to take out their belongings beforehand.

“It’s really difficult because the suite lounges are breathing spaces to hang out or study in, but it’s an emergency situation and we understand that it is only for a month-and-a-half so we decided to do it,” Dahleh said.

According to Karen A. Nilsson, senior associate dean for residential life, there were no other feasible options for housing the ATO members. She said that “timing was really tight.”

“We explored every possible location,” Nilsson said. “We explored graduate housing. We explored family housing. This time of year there simply are no openings.”

“My goal is to make sure all the students are housed on campus,” Nilsson added.

MacGregor suite lounges have been used in the past to host students for “limited amounts of time” as well, Nilsson said. “There have been years in the past where our crowding numbers were higher than they are right now, today, and we’ve used MacGregor to help with that.”

Dahleh also said that students displaced by Hurricane Katrina were housed in the lounges.

The ATO members will pay rent to MacGregor for the duration of their stay, and Housing will give 50 percent of that money back to MacGregor to be utilized for the dorm’s benefit, something that does not normally happen, Nilsson said.

The anticipated date for repairs to be complete on ATO’s building is Oct. 15, according to Nilsson. Housing is working with ATO and their alumni corporation, the FSILG Cooperative, and Facilities to get the building up and running again.

So far, the parts of the building with water damage have been taken out but the affected structures have not yet been rebuilt, according to ATO Vice President David M. Nole ’09.

Challenges for ATO’s rush

ATO will have to deal with the difficulties of holding rush without a house next week.

“It’s going to make it much more different than what we’ve done in previous years,” Ibegbu said. “We have to be a lot more creative now. In terms of the number of pledges that we pull in, it should be comparable [to past years], but we have to go about it in a different way this year.”

Ibegbu said that ATO would still be participating in Alley Rally, an event held on Amherst Alley and hosted by all the fraternities in the vicinity.

He also said that the house would be holding a barbecue on Kresge Oval.

It is unclear whether ATO will still need to maintain entries in the Clearinghouse tracking system, which requires all fraternities to log when freshmen enter and leave their houses during rush.