Faculty discusses report on housing
By Reuven M. Lerner
The faculty discussed possible changes in freshman housing and a proposed pornography policy at their monthly meeting on Wednesday.
Professor Mary C. Potter, who chaired the Freshman Housing Committee, summarized her committee's report for the faculty. She said that the "residential experience is essential" for a full undergraduate educational experience, and described the present system of assigning living groups as "exciting, but chaotic."
Potter said that under the new program, all freshmen would be preassigned to dormitories before arriving at MIT, and would live there for at least one year. Instead of the current Residence/Orientation Week, freshmen would participate in "Orientation Week," during which freshmen would participate in "more effective" orientation activities than presently exist.
Faculty reactions to the proposal were generally negative. Associate Professor James L. Kirtley '67 said he was "caught by surprise" by the housing report, and called it a "lousy idea." He also disputed the committee's opinion that foreign and minority students are underrepresented at ILG's. Kirtley said that while this might have been true in the past, it is no longer the case.
Undergraduate Association President Paul Antico '91 said that while freshmen might be unhappy with the residence choices they make, "choice based on limited knowledge is better than no choice at all." He encouraged the faculty to "attack student housing problems directly," rather than overhauling the entire process. Antico added that "if the problem with R/O is O, why change R?"
Dean for Undergraduate Education Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65, a member of the committee, supported the policy, saying that it was unfortunate that the summer mailing to incoming freshmen was a "combat manual" about "how to survive the [R/O] week," and asked, "What kind of signals are we sending?" She said that another problem is that women do not "participate in the ILG selection process."
Professor Lester C. Thurow said that the housing system puts freshmen under unnecessary stress, and noted that university life teaches people to live with people who "are not just like you." He added that he might very well discourage his son, a junior in high school, from applying to MIT, because of the stresses of R/O week.
The faculty next discussed a proposed new policy on the showing of pornographic films. Professor Henry D. Jacoby, a member of the group that had drawn up the policy, explained the differences between the present and proposed policies. While the current rules require permission before showing an unrated or X-rated film, the new policy would require students to file a complaint to the Committee on Discipline if they felt that a film had been pornographic or offensive.
Professor Paul C. Joss, who chaired the COD when it unanimously
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decided that Adam L. Dershowitz G was allowed to show pornographic films on campus, said that the "crux of the rationale for having a policy of this kind" is the "emotional disturbance" that some people have felt. He compared the proposal to laws against flag burning which Congress passed in the wake of a Su-
preme Court decision allowing the act. Joss said that just as people are now burning flags to test the law, the faculty is "inviting people to violate this policy."
Dershowitz, speaking at the meeting, criticized the faculty for trying to define pornography -- something which the Supreme Court had decided was a nearly impossible task.