FSILGs Face Loss of Option to House Non-MIT Summer Renters

The ability of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups (FSILGs) to charge and accept non-student summer boarders is in jeopardy. Those boarders have been critical to struggling revenues at FSILGs.

A new committee charged by Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo will be examining whether FSILGs can continue their practice of renting beds to non-MIT affiliates over the summer. The committee will report back to Dean Colombo with the results of their investigation by May 1.

The committee, known as the Summer Resident Working Group, plans to have a list of recommendations ready for implementation during the 2010–2011 school year.

After the Institute learned from the Cambridge License Commission and Boston Licensing Board that current licenses only allow for MIT students to live in the FSILG houses, Dean Colombo was prompted to form a committee to investigate current FSILG summer housing policies, said Kaya Miller, the assistant dean for FSILGs.

In past summers, issues with summer housing included trouble collecting rent and boarders outnumbering MIT students.

“Certain houses have not been able to collect from summer boarders,” said Alessondra Springmann G, a member of the committee and summer coordinator of pika, an independent living group in Cambridge. Springmann said the failure of FSILGs to require summer boarders to sign contracts was one of several problems.

Other issues involved one or two house members being left with all the living group’s responsibilities in a house full of tenants and whether revenue collected from non-MIT residents would have to be taxed differently, according to a report issued by Colombo to the committee.

The committee, which has been meeting for several weeks, includes administrators, resident advisors, members of the alumni corporations, and leaders from many FSILGs. They seek a resolution that allows for current housing practices to continue in a more responsible manner.

“We want to make sure the FSILGs are following responsible policies. It’s about figuring out the best policies and making sure the houses know everybody,” said Miller.

She will include in her suggestions to Colombo that the FSILGs request referrals and conduct interviews in order to ensure every tenant is known beforehand.

While there will have to be policy changes, Miller emphasized that the committee will be an advocate for the students.

“The FSILGs rely on the summer revenue somewhat,” said Miller, adding “we have no desire to remove that source of income.”

Fraternities especially rely on this income because of the large expenses they incur during rush.

“Some fraternities may spend up to $20,000 on rush, and some houses generate twice that in revenue from summer boarders,” said Springmann. “One of pika’s sources of income is rent from summer boarders. We use funds from the summer for projects such as building wheelchair ramps, repairing the roof, or renovating our kitchen.”

C. Emily Davidson ’10, pika’s treasurer, said income from non-pikan summer boarders was about seven percent of pika’s annual revenue.