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Elsewhere, Queer Elsewhere Provide Escape from Rush

By Stacey E. Blau
News Editor

As rush festivities continue, some students feel overwhelmed by its fast pace. Elsewhere Lounge and Queer Elsewhere opened Friday to provide freshmen with a relaxed, rush-free area to avoid the stress of rush.

"A lot of freshmen come here, usually to get away from all the craziness of rush," said Elsewhere Counselor Amy J. Fienup '98. Elsewhere is "someplace where freshmen can come where no fraternities will be after them," she said.

Both Elsewhere and Queer Elsewhere offer freshmen the opportunity to socialize and relax, playing with crayons, games, fingerpaints, coloring books, Play-doh, or puzzles without any of the worries of rush. Queer Elsewhere focuses on providing a comfortable environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students.

Neither of the lounges require Clearinghouse sign-in, so no independent living groups can reach students at Elsewhere or Queer Elsewhere.

Freshmen escape from rush

Freshmen see Elsewhere as a way to relax and get away from the pressures of rush.

"I came in just because I wanted to think about things - dorms, ILGs," Ania C. Busza '99 said.

Busza said that she was not impressed with rush. "People are being so friendly just to attract freshmen," she said.

"I really just avoided the whole thing," Leslie A. Pipe '99 said about rush. "I just told people I was a sophomore. I really knew I wasn't going to join a sorority." Pipe spent her time at Elsewhere coloring in a Bugs Bunny picture.

For freshman Anna Marie Dirks '99, Elsewhere "was the first chance I've had to do something creative" since she arrived at MIT. Dirks spent time at Elsewhere fingerpainting.

"You pretty much do as you please" at Elsewhere, Annette C. Gray '99 said. "It's much more comfortable."

"I don't particularly like the whole idea of rush," Dirks said. "It's a very bad way to start the year. I really can't think of anything more stressful."

Option for gay freshmen

Like Elsewhere, Queer Elsewhere provides rush-free area for freshmen with activities and games for relaxing. But Queer Elsewhere prides itself on creating a "queer-positive atmosphere for freshmen," said Nathan Sanders '96, a worker at Queer Elsewhere.

"Rush isn't a very queer-friendly scenario," said Joaquin S. Terrones '97, who is coordinating Queer Elsewhere. Queer Elsewhere provides "a mostly informal, social setting" for students to relax, said Terrones, political coordinator for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Friends.

But "like most queer spaces, [Queer Elsewhere] is also politically empowering for queers," said GAMITPublicity Coordinator Adrian Banard '97, who works in the lounge. Workers provide information about resources in the Boston area for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, he said.

Queer Elsewhere "gives [freshmen] a chance to realize that there are openly queer people at MIT from day one," Sanders said. This gives queer freshmen a boost of confidence that they otherwise might not get," he said.

"[Queer Elsewhere] provides visibility... making queer frosh feel like they're welcome on campus even if they don't go," Banard said.

Elsewhere is located in the reading room on the fifth floor of the Student Center and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. every day through Wednesday morning. Queer Elsewhere is located in rooms 304 and 310 in Walker Memorial and is open 8:00 p.m. to midnight every night through Tuesday.