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Rush, Housing Plan Need Revising

Every undergraduate at MIT would agree that Residence and Orientation Week is hectic, nerve-wracking, and stressful for all involved. The pressure of rush is excessive and may adversely affect the choices made by incoming students. By increasing the flexibility of the housing system and eliminating discrepancies between dormitory rush and fraternity, sorority, and independent living group rush, MIT can correct some of rush's current defects.

The Institute has a vested interest in rush because it relies heavily on FSILGs to siphon off a large number of freshmen, freeing up dormitory spaces for returning upperclassmen. Here, FSILG rush acts as a crutch for the housing system - greater emphasis is placed on filling FSILGs to reduce crowding than on encouraging informed choices by freshmen.

Under archaic and restrictive gag rules, making such an informed decision is a near-impossible task for the average frosh. The Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association badmouthing rules prohibit members of FSILGs from giving any information in the least bit critical of another living group, something hardly conducive to an intelligent evaluation of living options.

These badmouthing rules, already gone from dormitory rush, ought to be purged from the FSILG rush regulations.

Another imminent problem with rush involves housing for women, the fastest-growing segment of the MITundergraduate community. The administration and the admissions office have made laudable progress in attracting women to the undergraduate ranks. But little has been done to address the needs of these new women. Space in McCormick Hall is finite, and female enrollment will likely outpace new sorority housing. The Institute should intelligently plan and execute a strategy that preserves traditional housing options for women. Student participation is necessary in any such process.

The problem here is that because the dormitory system has no slack in it, there is currently no way to expand one housing option without steamrolling existing groups. More sorority space in Ashdown House would shunt aside graduate students, and forcing some dormitory floors to go all-female would seriously cripple valuable living group communities.

One way to increase the flexibility of the housing system - to handle more women in particular and more students in general - would be to expand it. Right now, slight changes in enrollment or incoming student preferences have big and ugly ramifications. Instead of basing planning on community consensus, the MIT administration is letting rush and enrollment drive the housing planning process. Since MIT has not made public its "master plan" for housing, if such a plan even exists, it is unclear whether expansion is being considered.

First, MIT should consider expanding its dormitory system in order to gain flexibility. Second, MIT should begin any important decision-making process in consultation with the affected living groups.

Deciding where to live for four years will always be difficult. Moreover, rush at MIT will probably always be stressful. By expanding the slack in the housing system and leveling the playing field for dorm and FSILG rush, however, MIT stands to relieve some of the pressure of rush and make the first few days of incoming students' lives more livable.