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R/O seeks to evenly distribute early freshmen to improve integration

We, the members of the Residence/Orientation Week 1990 Executive Committee, read with great interest the letter written by Courtney K. Moriarta '91 regarding the housing of first-year students during R/O ["Institute must improve integration of freshman groups," April 27]. This is a topic that has generated a lot of interest with the R/O 1990 Committee. Early this semester, we recognized the need for a more integrated freshman housing system during R/O.

One of the concerns the Freshman Housing Committee report raised was that first-year students are being segregated from the moment of their arrival, and that this is contrary to MIT's quest for diversity. It is obvious that in order to develop a truly diverse campus, the integration must begin as soon as possible.

This year, as a result of conversations between the R/O committee and the Office of Residence and Campus Activities, the committee is working to distribute early-arriving freshman among the various dorms during R/O Week. This distribution is not intended to stifle friendships that may form during the first few days, but to allow the freshmen to meet others not involved with their activity, with whom they might not otherwise have any contact.

Although this distribution will invariably cause a few hassles, we sincerely think it is necessary in order to spark the diversity and integration we are trying to achieve. We hope this integration will be carried over into residence selection and the remainder of students' time here.

Moriarta did bring up the question of international students during R/O Week. First, undergraduate international students make up fewer than the 20 percent figure she quotes; the figure is more on the order of eight percent. Second, the international students must be considered in a different light. Many of them have never been to the United States and the culture shock that they will experience can be severe.

To immediately intersperse these students among American students is both uncaring and inappropriate. To deny that these students are different would cause them a great disservice. By housing them together, past International R/O coordinators have succeeded in addressing their specific concerns. They have been able to provide a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that enables international students to adjust to American society in a less hurried manner. However, the idea of housing international students differently is still being discussed and the R/O committee is interested in hearing from international students about their own experiences during R/O.

Moriarta is not alone in her concerns. We are working hard to develop an integrated R/O Week and we hope that any other concerns be forwarded to us. <>

R/O Week is meant to provide the first-year students with an introduction to MIT and it is our goal that this introduction leaves them with the impression that MIT is a diverse institution where integration is not only encouraged but expected.

Bill Moliski '91->


Beth Pruitt '91->

Personnel and->

Publication Coordinator->

Brian Kelly '91->

Financial Coordinator->

R/O '90 Executive Committee->