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The romance is gone from BU dorm

Column by Adam Braff

May I direct your attention to the other side of the river? On a clear day, you can see a fertile cluster of three brown buildings, the Warren Towers residence of Boston University. I'm not in the business of perpetuating stereotypes, but I think it's safe to say that the residents of Warren Towers are more, oh, romantic than most. That is, they were until this term started.

Last year, you may recall, there was a minor brouhaha over the enactment of parietal rules -- in this case, an 11 o'clock curfew. BU president John Silber, acting against the wishes of the vast majority of the students, promoted the rule and was quick to enforce it. The story, or the legend as it was told to me by a student, was that a parent complained to the administration that her daughter wasn't able to study. The reason, she said, was that her daughter's roommate couldn't control her amorous feelings for a number of male students and would woo them in her room. A few more parents whined as well, and before they knew it, BU students were sleeping alone.

My sister, Aimie, is a student in the HoFo (Hotel and Food Administration) school, many of whose students are housed in a brownstone on Bay State Road. The brownstones, in stark comparison with Warren Towers, are minimum-security buildings. Because there is no uniformed guard to enforce the 11 pm rule in Aimie's dorm, she has remained relatively unaffected by the rule and can offer an objective opinion as to the primordial goings-on in her president's head.

"Silber's out of his mind," she said. "He has this idea, and I'm not making this up, that BU students are supposed to study 70 hours a week."

Aimie's analysis, that Silber is insane, is one possibility. There are six others.

O+ The It Works for Them Hypothesis: There is little doubt that Silber's rule has greatly reduced the amount of necking, and so on, in Warren Towers. It is quite possible that, by simulating the celibate conditions here at MIT, Silber believes he can create a race of geniuses at his own school.

O+ The Don't Forget Me in November Hypothesis: The rule has greatly reduced the number of students in BU housing, as shown by the disappearance this year of "nomads" -- students whom BU must temporarily put up in a nearby hotel until housing can be found. Based on this trend, Silber may have calculated, there will eventually be no students at all in university residences. At this point, he can open a chain of discount video rental stores, making himself very popular when he runs for governor, as is his stated intention.

O+ The Mad Scientist Hypothesis: If you look across the river at Warren Towers once more, you will see that there are no similarly tall buildings very close by. In order to sneak into the choicest upper windows, Silber realizes, the libidinous students will have to adapt to their environment. Specifically, Silber believes that every man and woman at his school will instantly evolve tiny suction cups on his hands and feet. By predicting this last year in a letter to Stockholm, Silber can guarantee himself a Nobel Prize in Biology for disproving Darwin. Darwin thought evolution took a long time.

O+ The Alternate Mad Scientist Hypothesis: The Warren Towers residents, many of them students in the College of Liberal Arts, will cease to reproduce with the fury of previous years. But the HoFo students, mating unchecked, will multiply faster than a Course XVIII grad student on speed. Once again, Darwin has egg on his dead face, and Silber has a Nobel.

O+ The Hinkley-Foster Syndrome Hypothesis: Last year, the fuming and fussing on Commonwealth grew so loud that even Phil Donahue took notice. On a special show dealing with the 11 pm rule, Silber sat in the hot seat and woodenly deflected the impassioned taunts of BU students in the audience. More to the point, he was at times less than five feet away from Donahue himself. Now, Silber's only human, and it's entirely possible that he has a psychopathic infatuation with Donahue's wife, Marlo Thomas. A crazy rule, some disproportionate publicity, et voil`a! He is close enough to her husband to strangle him. The problem with this theory is that no murder actually took place. Perhaps Silber was worn out from one of his 70-hour work weeks.

O+ The Most Likely Hypothesis: Undergraduates are not the source of donations. By appealing to the interests of a few wealthy parents and alumni, Silber has sacrificed the respect of his students for greed.

The saddest chapter of the 11 pm story, perhaps, is the fadeout of student efforts to resist the change. I asked Belinda, a Warren Towers resident, what her friends were doing about the rule which threatens to compromise the best four years of their lives.

"Nothing," she said. "We've given up trying to get things back to normal."


Adam Braff, a junior in the School of Humanities and Social Science, has written sports and book reviews for The Tech.

[gfsandwich,1,1.5,0] It is quite possible that, by simulating the celibate conditions here at MIT, Silber believes he can create a race of geniuses at his own school.