The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 71.0°F | Fog/Mist

Clearinghouse System Keeps Track of Freshmen; One Hides

By Stacey E. Blau
News Editor

For the first time ever since the start of the Clearinghouse computer system used during rush, a freshman exercised his right to be made invisible on the system.

Clearinghouse is used to track freshmen as they move among living groups. During rush, all freshmen must check in and out of any residence they visit, said Jonathan Z. Litt '96, chair of the Residence and Orientation Week Clearinghouse Committee.

Information about a freshman's whereabouts "is immediately available," so the system lets living groups track down freshmen quickly during rush and provides a way for freshmen to be reached during emergencies, Litt said.

Frosh asks for invisibility

This year is the first time since the inception of Clearinghouse that a freshman has been asked to be made invisible to living groups, Litt said.

Students can make themselves invisible to living groups in Clearinghouse by contacting the Residence and Campus Activities Office in W20-549.

Erik C. Snowberg '99 asked to be made invisible after Alpha Epsilon Pi bothered him with excessive visits and phone calls, he said. According to Snowberg, members of AEPi came by on three separate occasions to ask him if he wanted to come back to the fraternity with them.

On one occasion, Snowberg was taking a shower at Theta Chi, where he had stayed overnight, when members of AEPi arrived and requested to see him. Interfraternity Council rush rules require that a freshman be produced by a living group within 15 minutes, so Snowberg had to be "pulled out of the middle of a shower. That really did annoy me," he said.

"In reality, our only contact with Snowberg was a single telephone call and a single visit," said AEPiRush Chair Benjamin S. Levin 97. "Indeed, he was considering several other fraternities, and we feel that his reaction to this situation is a complaint against the Clearinghouse system in general, and not against Alpha Epsilon Phi."

Rush "is kind of a meat market," and overzealous rushing is something that fraternity rushees should expect, Snowberg said. He said he does not fault Clearinghouse for the problem he encountered but said that the option to be made invisible "should be made more public."

Snowberg did not know about his option to remove himself from Clearinghouse until an IFC fairness judge told him that that was a choice, he said.

Snowberg said that he has been offered a bid from Theta Chi but declined to say if he intends to accept the bid.

Invisible option deceptive

Although freshmen have the option of not being disturbed by living groups by being made "invisible" on Clearinghouse, few freshmen appear to know about that option, said Russell S. Light '98.

"They should be more up front about that fact that you're not required to participate in Clearinghouse," said Light, who is also treasurer of Undergraduate Association.

Independent living groups "are counting on the fact that you don't know that you have that option. It's portrayed in a deceptive way," said Light, who stressed his opinions were his own and not the UA's.

The right of freshmen to be made invisible is published in The 1995 Hitchhiker's Guide to R/O, but since "it works against the interests of rush" to let freshmen know about their option, the Office of Residence and Campus Activities and the IFC have tried to keep the option as little-known as possible, Light said.

RCA "sends out mountains of stuff to freshmen but doesn't tell them that they don't have to participate" in rush, Light said.

Dorms have mixed reactions

"The only problem with Clearinghouse is that there's nothing to do on the computer when we're not checking people in," said Chia L. Shafiroff '97, a rush worker at Next House. Shafiroff said that Next "has had no real problems so far" and has been using Clearinghouse conscientiously to check in freshmen.

"The system is unusable," said Amy Banzhaf '98, a rush worker at East Campus. "It takes forever to sign people in, so we haven't been using it," she said. "We don't require people to sign in."

Pablo Herrero G, a rush worker at Baker House, said that Clearinghouse has been working well. Herrero, who said that this is his fifth year working rush, said that Clearinghouse "is much better than it used to be."