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R/O changes emphasize academic orientation

By Andrea Lamberti

Several major changes in Residence/Orientation Week this year are intended to shift its emphasis by offering more academic orientation to freshmen in the first part of the week. The changes were also designed to present freshmen with more information about diversity in the MIT community, before residence selection begins today at 4 pm, according to William J. Moliski '91, this year's R/O coordinator.

In the first of the changes, students broke up into discussion groups to talk to classmates about the MIT community after yesterday's convocation -- which itself focused on diversity and community at MIT.

Today, freshmen are participating in a design project led by Professor of Mechanical Engineering Woodie C. Flowers '73. It is part of the activities based on the book The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald A. Norman '57, which was assigned to students over the summer.

Students will discuss the book over dinner next Thursday, after a faculty presentation which will include the author Norman himself.

The freshmen are spending this morning exploring MIT in groups of 10 or 11, in search of design problems and poorly designed objects on campus. Their assignment, the second major change in R/O, is to document them with Polaroid photographs and drawings and then come up with solutions.

The third major change in

R/O Week this year is the elimination of the annual R/O Picnic. Freshmen will instead eat lunch in small groups with R/O counselors after the design project. An hour-long ice cream social in Killian Court will take the place of the picnic in gathering freshmen for the class picture and the start of rush.

The R/O committee decided to have freshmen eat lunch with

R/O counselors, rather than at the picnic, to eliminate some of the "standing around" time during the two-hour picnic, Moliski said, and to create a more casual atmosphere in the question-and-answer sessions with the R/O counselors.

All of these changes were designed to give freshmen "a taste of it all before rush," Moliski said. The way the week is structured this year, freshmen get a "welcome by the president[s], a welcome by upperclassmen, and a welcome by academics" before rush begins, he said.

Changes sparked by Freshman

Housing Committee report

This year's R/O committee was influenced by the recommendations of the Freshman Housing Committee, whose November 1989 report suggested that R/O Week focus on orientation to assure "a student's well-being, security, and sense of `being in the right place' [as well as] the generation of intellectual excitement."

The report also recommended that R/O Week include the "introduction to academic opportunities and the freshman curriculum, provision of practical information about student life and co-curricular activities, and introduction to community life and norms, and introduction to the larger community beyond MIT, and orientation for parents."