Changes in rush might hurt ILGs
By Reuven M. Lerner
Residents of independent living groups should be concerned, but not worried, by the report of the Freshman Housing Committee, according to Neal H. Dorow, advisor to fraternities and ILGs.
The FHC, which was appointed by then-Provost John M. Deutch '61, recommended several changes in the current residence selection process, the most prominent of which was the suggestion that all freshmen be housed in dormitories. The report recommended that rush be delayed until the end of the freshman year.
According to a number of students and administrators, the FHC report will probably be brought up for public discussion within the next year, possibly within the next year or two.
Dorow said the report had not been discussed very much in the last two years, but that it had been "hanging over the head" of the Interfraternity Conference during that time. He attributed this period of uncertainty to the appointment of a new president and provost, who had been "attending to other matters" until now.
Delayed rush could
hurt ILGs financially
IFC President Holly L. Simpson '92 felt that most ILG residents, as well as members of the IFC, "are opposed to delaying rush." She attributed this to a combination of financial and social reasons.
The financial strain would probably come from a sudden, sharp reduction in the number of people living at a each ILG. Rushing 50 percent of the men in a given class would no longer be sufficient to fill all of the ILGs, since there would be one less class from which to rush.
"Given the fact that in order to fill the same number of beds with only three of the classes instead of all four, you're going to need to increase that to probably 66 or 67 percent of any given class," Dorow said.
"I don't know if that's a realistic expectation, or if living groups could realistically expect to attain that," Dorow added. "I personally don't think that's attainable."
Simpson said that the IFC treasurer from several years ago had determined that one-third of the ILGs would not survive the transition to a three-class ILG system.
While some of the nationally affiliated fraternities would be able to get funding from their national organizations, many of the local, independent ILGs would find themselves in a greater financial pinch than they could handle.
Zeta Beta Tau Rush Chair Michael K. McCandless '92 felt that his fraternity "would survive," although "it would not be a good thing" for them to lose a class.
Ailing ILGs would probably not receive any compensatory money from the Dean's office, Dorow added. "We're not talking about a one-year fix. We're talking about forever," which makes any funding arrangement impossible, he said.
Simpson felt that while delaying rush might give freshmen the chance to get to know the ILGs better, it would lead to other problems. She said
freshmen arrive on campus relatively free of biases, making it easier for them to go look at living groups by themselves. Once they develop cliques, it becomes harder for them to find a place to live by themselves, she added.
Mary A. Frey '95, who is living in Next House this term but plans to move to pika next term, agreed that students would form biases if they waited to rush. "If you had a whole year, you could develop stereotypes. . . . [although] first impressions can also be deceiving," she explained.
Simpson predicted that there would be other problems involved, as well. "We have a dry rush policy. . . . If you delayed rush, and moved it to the end of freshman year, it would cause a lot of problems."
McCandless also worried about a full term of rushing. "It would basically extend rush through the whole first term [which] would be a nightmare," he said. We would end up "wasting a lot of time, worrying about which freshmen we would get."
Influence on rush
difficult to determine
Dorow said that it was impossible to measure the relative success of the current residence selection against the proposed system. The current system, for which figures are available, has only a five percent attrition rate from rushing freshmen, he said.
He was also skeptical of the notion that freshmen would make better decisions if rush were not so short and hectic. "What would constitute a better decision? Pledging a better fraternity, or a different fraternity?" he said.
"Generally speaking, freshmen rush and pledge one fraternity. If we said, `what if we gave you a couple more days -- would you pledge another one?' that wouldn't prove anything," he said.
Some freshmen believed that having new students live on campus was a reasonable idea, and would give them time to adjust.
Katherine Sun '95, who lives at the Women's Independent Living Group, thought the proposal was "not a bad idea," and would let freshmen "get to know each other better."
"You don't get to meet as many freshmen [in an ILG] as you would living in a dorm," she said.
But she admitted that fewer freshmen would rush ILGs if they had already lived in dormitories for some time. "If I had been happy in the dorm, I don't see why I would want to move out of them," she said.
FHC report is
unrealistic for MIT
Dorow said that the FHC proposals were good, but unrealistic given MIT's current situation. "If we were going to start a big school, and we were going to start it with fraternities and off-campus living groups, we probably would say, `let's have the freshmen on campus for a year to adjust.' . . . Moving from that model to where MIT is now is very difficult," he said.
Simpson criticized the small number of students the FHC interviewed when preparing the report. They "interviewed 19 students out of 4000. . . . I read the report and I saw what they had cited as their sources, and I didn't think the report was very substantiated."
She added, "I don't know if it would be any worse, but I don't see a lot of compelling reasons to delay rush just because that's what everybody else does. That's not a really valid reason."
Dorow felt that it was time to do something with the proposal, and said that the report could not wait any longer. "There were a lot of people who put a lot of time into that committee, and they made some recommendations, and someone needs to tell them `Thank you' -- `Thanks, but no thanks,' or `Thank you, we're going to accept your recommendations.' One way or the other, we should not just leave it sitting on a shelf," he said.