Report of the AILG Accreditation Committee

Academic Year 2009-10

Excerpt: Best Practices and Lessons Learned

The AILG Board requested on 4 Feb 2010 that the Best Practices and Lessons Learned which were identified by Visiting Committees be made available to the MIT Undergraduate FSILG Leadership. I have created this extract of the full report for this purpose.


John R. Covert
AILG Accreditation Coordinator
MIT Phone 617 32 4-8259 (day, evening, cell)

Phi Kappa Theta



  1. 4.Best Practices in the MIT FSILG community 

A sampling of the “best practices” identified by the Visiting Committees is presented below, edited slightly to not mention specific organizations.  Many of these practices were reported to be in operation at more than one organization.  All of the best practices are contained in the full reports in the Appendix, available to any member of  the MIT AILG community.  It is important to note that a best practice found in one living group may  not necessarily be appropriate for another.  This is not a “one size fits all” situation.  Rather, the idea is  to offer practices for the consideration of each individual living group.  Should a group desire more  information about any particular item, please contact the Accreditation Coordinator or any member of the Accreditation Committee. Please recognize that each of these items was extracted from the Visiting Committee reports which were written by dozens of authors with different writing styles.

    1. 4.1.Governance 

  1. a)Implement officer transition programs including an officer retreat and/or Alumni Advisory Board members attending a goal setting and brainstorming meeting with the outgoing and incoming undergraduate officers.  To aid the undergraduates, pair alumni with chapter officers to advise them, with the primary Chapter Advisor coordinating advising efforts and year-to-year continuity.  This also promotes good communications between the alumni and undergraduate organizations. 

  2. b)Use wikis, comprehensive training manuals, and cloud services such as DropBox to help with transitions and to maintain all corporate documentation in a centralized location rather than in prior officers’ personal email archives, personal computers, or even the chapter server.  Key to implementing such best practices: make it a requirement for each officer to place a bible of their position in a centrally accessible location. 

  3. c)Make sure that the Accreditation Review session is well-attended by both alumni and undergrads, and not just current officers. 

    1. 4.2.Financial 

      1. a)Use written housing contracts and a billing service such as Omega Financial.  Housing contracts have been found to improve rent collection and clearly delineate the responsibilities of residents. 

      2. b)Collect house-bills up front, especially during the summer where security deposits are also used.  For one organization this led to 100% summer payment, including boarders. 

      3. c)Forge partnerships with resources such as the Society for the Preservation of Greek Housing. 

      4. d)Avoid treating summer residents as "tenants" in a legal sense.  Instead, the housing contract gives a license to occupy the building.  This may be an important legal distinction which other houses should consider. 

    2. 4.3.Recruitment and Member Development 

      1. a)Leverage alumni/ae resources to secure internships and jobs.  Have alumni/ae conduct interview prep sessions and keep a google doc to track where alumni/ae are employed. 

      2. b)Finding a cook with a high satisfaction rating has been found to contribute to high attendance and a sense of community at dinner times. 

      3. c)A stronger and less stressful rush was achieved by focusing less on large events and developing personal relationships with potential new members. 

      4. d)Implement continuous recruitment rather then focusing only on the defined rush periods. 

      5. e)Use local alumni as a resource to network with other alumni to promote attendance at alumni events.  Plan a whole weekend of activities, including (as a specific example) a barbecue and a formal dinner. 

      6. f)Provide continual development for all brothers, not just new members. 

      7. g)Provide a formal structure to use members who choose to live in the dorms as an on campus presence for recruiting. 

      8. h)Provide a free bicycle for each new member to get from Boston to campus. 

      9. i)Hold a weekend retreat each semester.  Good attendance was reported by an undergraduate chapter which assigns the job of organizing the retreats each term and typically schedules the retreat for the weekend after the last day of class for the semester.  Enough time is available upon return to study for finals.  For this chapter the retreats have become established as a regular/expected program, including skiing, camping, etc.  It serves as a great bonding event that everyone looks forward to and members typically only miss if an end-of-term final project work gets in the way. 

      10. j)Know the organization's formal values statement and be able to articulate them in relation to recruitment policies. 

    3. 4.4.Community Relations 

      1. a)Hold a Campus Preview Weekend parents brunch and/or faculty dinner. 

      2. b)Formally create an alumni/ae organization separate from the house corp, focused on activities and outreach to promote close and continuing alumni bonds.  Plan weekend and other events, and receive alumni donations for both the social organization and the house corp. 

      3. c)Create a separate alumni advisory board to provide one-on-one advice to chapter officers. 

      4. d)Assign alumni "era" coordinators in approximately 10-year intervals. 

      5. e)Organize family-friendly alumni/ae events such as apple-picking to encourage whole-family turnout. 

    4. 4.5.Scholarship 

      1. a)Match freshman with upperclassmen with the same major.  Increase the number of review sessions.  Hold study hours at regularly scheduled times, e.g. Sunday evening. 

      2. b)Create a Google Doc listing of upperclassmen who have volunteered to serve as tutors indicating which classes, so that other members know whom to approach. 

      3. c)Have the new member educator receive grades from freshmen and reports them.  Collect early grade information to estimate house GPA. The accreditation committee recognizes that there is resistance to this area of best practice, but there is strong evidence that more openness about individual academic standing coupled with providing resources to assist struggling members improves academic performance. 

    5. 4.6.Behaviour 

      1. a)Use the advice given during risk management training to make proper, quick decisions and respond quickly and correctly to incidents. 

    6. 4.7.Physical Plant 

      1. a)Clean house fully twice a week.