Ability to choose one's living group ought to be preserved
In his recent letter ["FHC proposal would give freshmen perspective," Dec. 12], Eric Blackman '90 manages to misconstrue the point of my argument. I did not in any manner intend to compare the relative merits of independent living groups and dormitories. I firmly believe that there is great value in each of these options, which is why I advocate the current system.
This is consistent with MIT's libertarian educational philosophy -- as explained to me by President Paul E. Gray '54 -- that the Institute strives to provide its students with all the resources necessary to obtain an education of the highest quality, both in and out of the classroom. The choice of living group options from day one is an integral part of this educational opportunity. Having visited over 40 universities in my current occupation, I have become increasingly partial to MIT's way of doing things, especially when compared to other New England institutions such as Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Colby where there have been attempts to combine academic excellence with social engineering. I contend that the two are incompatible.
I agree with Blackman that rejection is not necessarily a good experience and that, like murder, we should not routinely practice it on campus. I will reiterate my pro-choice argument: no one is forced to rush, pledge, or remain at an ILG. There is a dorm space for everyone that wants it under the current system. I agree that a four-day rush period does not necessarily provide the best atmosphere for making this choice. To that end, the administration and the InterFraternity Council have to do a better job of encouraging both incoming freshmen and the living groups to be more active in the summer rush.
Finally, let me address the real point that Blackman is trying to make -- that fraternities are in and of themselves bad. He speaks with authority, having lived in a fraternity, a dormitory and off campus. I'm glad he was able to experience all of these options and was able to find what was best for him. That is my entire point.
I'm sure it is the case that some fraternities require pledges to answer the phones or clean the house, but this is not enough to convince me that the institution itself is bad. In my opinion, the amount of hazing that goes on in our fraternities is no greater than hazing that goes on in dormitories (e.g. showering and being chained to a keg). Furthermore, every national fraternity has at least attempted to educate its members about the stupidity of hazing. Getting rid of fraternities is not going to get rid of hazing, or any of the other problems on the college campus.
Fraternities and dormitories are not for everyone; MIT should be lauded for allowing its students to choose.
Jeffrey M. Hornstein '89->
Zeta Psi International Fraternity->