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Students Explore `Sexual Positions'

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

Nearly 1000 members of the Class of 1996 participated in last night's "Sexual Positions," a dramatization and discussion on rape and sexuality at MIT.

Sexual Positions, organized by the Residence/Orientation Week Committee and the newly formed Student Intercourse Committee, took place in two parts. It began with a combined video and live presentation in a packed Kresge Auditorium.

Freshmen then joined their discussion groups from Move Off Your Assumptions, an earlier R/O Week activity. Led by a facilitator, each MOYA group discussed the Kresge presentation and the issues it had raised. Between 750 and 800 freshmen participated in the groups, facilitators estimated.

The centerpiece of the Kresge presentation was a play dramatizing how an acquaintance rape can occur. Written by Glen D. Weinstein '92, the play depicted two MIT students, Kathy (played by Marivi B. Acuna '94) and Alex (Arthur H. Roberts '92) who develop an unusual sort of friendship that leads to rape.

The video portion included advertisements and music videos that objectified women, as well as excerpts from a speech on how these images affect personal behavior. The Kresge presentation also included readings of the experiences of MIT students who had been raped.

Freshmen exiting Kresge were overwhelmingly supportive of the presentation. Todd J. Boutin '96 thought the play was "informative -- it was more realistic than the usual pictures of rape that are presented." The presentation "helped to create a positive sexual atmosphere," said Pehr C. Anderson '96.

A few freshmen thought the video presentation needed improvement. "The film clip wasn't well organized, but it was well intentioned," said Christian Shaver '96. Facilitator Douglas D. Keller '93 agreed. "Both the freshmen in my group and I thought the video was disjointed and difficult to understand," he said. "Many of the clips could have benefited from voice-overs," he added.

Both freshmen and facilitators were excited about the results of the discussion groups. Andrew S. Huang '96 said his discussion group "got very tense because [rape] is a very personal issue."

John S. Hollywood '96 commented that the discussions complemented the Kresge presentation "much like a lecture and a recitation." He added that it was "a good thing to see this now before [freshmen] are placed in ... a situation" such as that presented in the play.

In a meeting after the discussion groups, facilitators compared their groups' reactions and comments. Many discussion groups focused on poor communication as a primary factor in the rape depicted in the play. Facilitators tried to inform freshmen that good communication was not enough to prevent all rapes, however.

Freshmen noted the realism of the play, facilitators said. Cheryl Vossmer, a Campus Police sergeant and facilitator, said the play "brought the idea of acquaintance rape home to many freshmen who hadn't experienced it in their home town." Another facilitator commented that women in her group were scared because "they think they would act the same way in the same situation."

Rebecca L. Berry '95, chair of the SIC and host of Sexual Positions, said she was pleased with the program. "I was especially happy with the large turnout of fraternity pledge classes," she said. Berry said SIC plans to address rape and related issues in the future. "We're thinking about speakers, meetings, maybe a crisis center," she said.