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Committee sends freshwomen book

By Annabelle Boyd

The Women's Residence/Orientation Committee will be providing each incoming freshwoman with a copy of The New Our Bodies, Ourselves compiled by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. The freshwomen will receive this book when they first check into the R/O center on Thursday, Aug. 31.

The New Our Bodies, Ourselves is the updated version of Our Bodies, Ourselves, which first appeared in 1969, and generated much discussion on such women's issues as nutrition, abortion, violence against women, birth control and sexuality.

In addition to the distribution of the book, a "book party" will be held during orientation week, at which representatives from the Boston Women's Health Book Collective will discuss the book with the in-coming freshwomen.

According to Debra Armstrong '91, a member of the Women's R/O Committee, the committee hopes that this book will serve not only as a valuable resource for the in-coming freshwomen, but also that it will show them that MIT possesses the resources necessary to deal with the special interests and concerns shared by women.

Providing the freshwomen with a copy of this book is not an original idea, as it was done for the incoming freshwomen in the late 1970s, Armstrong said. However, this practice was discontinued in the early 1980s, primarily due to lack of funding. According to Armstrong, many people -- both students and staff -- felt that giving the book to freshwomen was "important," and a "good idea," so mounting the funding campaign to reinstate the book as a part of the R/O experience was not too difficult.

Working through the Women's R/O Committee with Christina Boyle '91 and Kelly McDonald '91, Armstrong raised the funds necessary to purchase 380 copies of the book, one for each in-coming freshwoman. If potential donors were reluctant at first, once they were made aware of the issues addressed in the book, they became, in most cases, generous and supportive, Armstrong said.

According to R/O Coordinator Elizabeth Ling '89, "Even groups with tight budgets have been giving money, support and encouragement."

In addition to the book, each freshwoman will receive a pamphlet reporting the organizations which donated the money to buy the books, and explaining which resources each group has to offer to women at MIT. The following groups have contributed to the project thus far: the Women's Studies Program, Lynn Roberson (Cheney Fund), the Medical Department, the Literature Section, Gays at MIT, the Ad Hoc Committee on Lesbian and Gay Studies, Andrew M. Eisenmann '75 (the Dean's Office), the Women's Independent Living Group and Associate Provost S. Jay Keyser.

In providing The New Our Bodies, Ourselves to this year's incoming freshwomen, the Women's R/O Committee hopes to begin a tradition of purchasing the book for the women of each incoming class, Armstrong said.

According to Ling, the distribution of this book "distinguishes the Women's R/O Committee from other groups, and sets an important example for other groups to follow."