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Women's R/O good

By Harold A. Stern

(Third in a series on issues concerning MIT women.)

Rush week for women, although imperfect, is "overall a good thing," according to Mary K. Bayalis '86, women's Residence/Orientation coordinator.

The problem is that for the most part during rush week, "the men [in the fraternities] are focusing on meeting freshmen who can fit in," said Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, staff assistant for campus activities. As a result, "there are a lot more options for men than women."

Bayalis agreed, saying that she "was aware of the situation and understood that the fraternities are interested in meeting guys."

She explained, "The women who are more outgoing, more socially comfortable, go to the fraternity parties. We need something there for the others."

In addition, Eisenmann said, there have been individual cases where women who have gone to these parties have been harassed.

Bayalis added that in the past, there has been a problem concerning women being refused transportation across the river. She cited an incident where eight women at a fraternity party were told that they would not be given a ride back to their dormitories, that they should "go elsewhere."

"An announcement has been made at the InterFraternity Conference (IFC) about this," Bayalis said. As a result, "the fraternities are a lot more aware." No complaints were filed this past year, she added.

"Women should not be told that they are not welcome," Eisenmann said. "Over a number of years, we have worked with the IFC, the Dean's office, and women's groups. We are hoping that as the issue gets raised, people will become more sensitive."

Events to which women were "cordially invited" were indicated by an asterisk in the Daily Confusion. In previous years there were very few parties open to women. This year, though, there were many more, Bayalis said.

Bayalis characterized women's rush activities as a "feeble attempt to make up for the imbalance in the number of independent living groups women are eligible to live at." At least for those who attend the events, it does serve its purpose, she said.

Women's R/O begins at the orientation sessions held before the freshman picnic. "We are letting women students who have gone through rush make suggestions," Bayalis said. At these sessions, they try to make women aware of the options available, and to address the issues. "This has been successful to some extent,"she added.

Bayalis said that rush activities which were funded and run by MIT for freshwomen included a brunch and an ice cream gathering in the Margaret S. Cheney room. At these events, representatives from women's living groups led discussions.

"This is not the best alternative," Bayalis said. Women's R/O activities "have been branded as `a bunch of girls hanging out.' "

The purpose of these activities is two-fold, Bayalis said. They provide an atmosphere for freshwomen to meet each other and talk to each other. Also, they give the participants the opportunity to discover the resources available for them, such as the Dean's Office and the Cheney room, Bayalis continued.

The only way to create a better rush for women, Eisenmann said, would be to increase the number of living group options for women, "with more single-sex areas as well as co-ed."

The Dean's Office is focusing its efforts on finding a house for Alpha Phi, he said. "We are trying to give women more options, and to make more women aware of these options," he continued.

Bayalis agreed that rush needs more living group opportunities for women. "There will not be a good R/O system until [MIT has] a number of sororities. We must create more options for women in living," she emphasized.

Although rush is not perfect, Bayalis emphasized that it "should be a positive experience for everyone. The fact that women are left out of a major part is important enough to warrant women's R/O."