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Student Resident Book Revamped

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

Incoming freshmen will receive an updated and renamed 1992 Undergraduate Residential Life book this summer. The book, which gives freshmen a preliminary look at MIT housing options, has been reorganized to "get people excited about the possibilities of rush," said Eliot S. Levitt '89, staff assistant in the Residence and Campus Activities Complex.

The book will be divided into two sections. The first will give details on aspects of undergraduate life, including safety, dining options, single-sex housing, Residence/Orientation Week rules, and freshman crowding in the dormitories. The second section will be a guide to individual living groups in a "Yellow Pages" format, according to Levitt, who has edited the book for two years.

Levitt said the front section will have a "more personal face. We're trying to emphasize individual student perspectives -- essays, stories, whatever. Hopefully we can create an R/O atmosphere that is positive and not frightful."

The opening section is also aimed at parents. "A lot of parents look at the book, and I think we can ease many of their fears," Levitt said.

The second section will be similar to the listings used in past books, but will be significantly smaller. Each living group will have a half-page rather than a full-page in which to describe itself. "Eighty to 90 percent of the current text, a photo of the house, and a few highlights fit in a half-page," Levitt said.

Some of the photographs that previously would have appeared in individual listings will now be placed in the book's front section, with captions provided by each living group. "Freshmen won't be attracted to a living group just because of its listing, but will see it as part of the entire context of undergraduate life here," Levitt said.

"Each house used to have to sell the [housing] system, so they didn't say anything different from any other house. Now we're taking over the system sell, which gives the houses more freedom," Levitt said.

Levitt said he began work on the new book because he was dissatisfied with last year's design. "The book really didn't serve the purpose it was designed for," he said.

Response from fraternity rush chairs has been positive, Levitt said.

However, some Dormitory Council representatives have expressed fear that descriptions of housemasters and the graduate residence and tutor system would lead people to believe they would be babysat in the dormitories, Levitt noted.

"I question the desire of incoming students to read what housemasters, house managers, and other staff and faculty members have to say about residence life," said Elizabeth T. Smith '93, DormCon president. "When I was a freshman I skipped the whole front section... . If you give too many people's opinions, you're wasting paper. Adding a few student quotes about what to expect [from residence life] might be the optimal idea."

The new book may reduce the stress of freshmen arriving without knowing how things work, said David W. Hogg '92, former president of Senior House. Hogg, who wrote the Senior House submission for the book, said the idea is to make it "a bit less of a collection of ads and more of an informational guide to rush week and undergrad residence in general."

"It remains to be seen whether [the redesigned guide] will help... . If it succeeds, it may protect the future of rush," Hogg said.