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Posters Slam Fraternities, Rush

By Deena Disraelly
Staff Reporter

Yesterday morning, the Ad Hoc Committee for an Informed Rush postered the campus with a series of "Truth is a virus" posters. In addition, they postered every desk in the Green Building, where some freshmen took the Freshman Essay Evaluation.

The posters addressed incoming students, with statements such as "MOO, join the herd" and "Brotherhood equals green underwear, wearing diapers, blindfolded ceremonies, candles, hoods, paddles. Think about it."

According to the Committee, these posters are intended not only to provide useful information, but also to "help incoming students ask the right questions and make informed decisions about Rush," according to Scott R. Velazquez, one the group's co-founders. If the posters are "provocative," it is only because they were "designed to be thought provoking," he added.

One poster suggested to freshman, "Get Shitfaced ... Get Hazed ... Learn How to Rape ... Pledge a fraternity." It also included facts from studies done at other universities about the alcohol consumption of Greeks versus non-Greeks, hazing practices, and the occurrences of sexual assault at fraternities.

"Using facts from other schools and applying them to MIT is not reasonable," said Inter-Fraternity Council President Prashant B. Doshi '95. The Committee "has a right to poster, but I don't think [their statistics are] fair."

"This is an unproductive thing to do," said Mariquita C. Gilfillan '94, president of the Panhellenic Council. "It says 'be close-minded about rush.' "

Velazquez disagrees with this characterization. "I certainly do not see how a poster can force ideas upon anyone -- they are simply pieces of paper stating facts or our honest opinions about Rush."

David C. Cho '94 also criticized the posters for trumpeting an opinion, instead of introducing informational material. "Most of the posters are not designed along the lines: This is the incident, this is the solution. Rather, they say, think this," he said. "Why should I believe this just because it's on a piece of paper?"

Freshmen respond with mixed reactions

Debajit Ghosh '97, who saw the posters at the essay exam, said he had already planned to look at fraternities before reading the messages. "It didn't really affect me too much," he added.

However, some freshmen were worried by the posters. "I come from Texas where fraternities are obnoxious and known for it nationwide," said Douglas W. Howie '97. "Looking at these posters just reminds me of that."

"In the back of your mind you say, these things can happen here, even though they're not supposed to," said Esteban Mendoza '97.

IFC Rush Chair Karl K. Cheng '94 did not think that the posters will affect Rush. "We want the freshman to go out and talk to the fraternities and find out what they are about," he said.

"There is a possibility it will help rush because it will encourage people to ask questions, but I don't think it was done in a constructive manner,"Panhellenic Rush Chair Ellen M. Gonzales '94 added. "We encourage freshman to ask questions. Any member of Panhellenic will be able to answer the questions and hopefully eliminate the concerns," she said.

Gonzales also pointed out that although the Ad Hoc Committee postered last year, "The Panhellenic system had the best rush ever."

IFC already addresses hazing

"Without knowing some of the programming the IFC has developed and implemented, it is irresponsible of [the Committee] to exploit the advantage they have in addressing the freshman community," Doshi said.

Specifically, Doshi cites IFC's commitment to Greeks Against Rape, an organization formed in conjunction with the Sexual Issues Committee. SIC provides facilitators to run discussions about harassment, rape, and gender stereotypes in independent living groups which participate in GAR.

Similarly, 34 ILGs committed to having a discussion addressing multi-culturalism, racial tensions, and diversity, facilitated by the MIT administration.

Two days ago, every pledge educator in the IFC signed a form saying that their organization would abide by Massachusetts laws prohibiting hazing.

To promote less drinking, Doshi said the IFC will promote "responsible parties, by offering police details to the fraternities, free of charge, during dead week." Doshi hoped this would promote community relations as well.

Also, IFC plans to sponsor a women's center on campus, in coordination with Panhel. The center will provide support for the women of the MIT community.