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Dry R/O Week Would Lead to Downfall of Fraternity System

Column by A. Arif Husain
News Editor

At this very moment, the gears of the Interfraternity Council are spinning out of control in a direction that will change the fraternity system at MIT as we know it, if not eliminate it altogether. The office of Residence and Campus Activities is working with IFC to implement a proposal which will completely restrict the presence of alcohol at any fraternity activity during Residence and Orientation Week. This proposal advances the current restriction which forbids serving alcohol to freshman until mid-week, but permits alcohol consumption by upperclassmen at any time.

Disturbingly, the IFC seems to lack the introspective ability to understand itself, and the needs and rights of its own members. I find the fact that IFC is even considering implementing a dry rush both rash and morally wrong.

It is a clear and indisputable fact that booze is the lifeblood of our fraternity system. A well-stocked bar always leads to a well stocked party. Can we really depend on friendships and social skills alone to foster successful fraternity activities? It's a considerable risk. After all, the fraternity system was designed to promote unity, social interaction, and brotherhood among men. Where would our men be without alcohol to lubricate the finely-tuned Independent Living Group social machine? Not to mention the generous liaison role it plays in stimulating fraternity and sorority relations. Like the sun offering its life-giving energy to the flourishing earth, an alcoholic eclipse will be a sight that could damage more than just the eyes. A frat without a keg is like an ocean without water, happy without sad, Seinfeld without Kramer. In short, it's just not the same.

Sororities and dormitories can do without alcohol during any rush activities because it's clear they are not dependent on alcohol during the year. Dormitories will be dull with our without alcohol use. On the contrary, alcohol is the lan vital of the fraternity organism. The dessication of fraternities, albeit limited to rush week, will ultimately result in an irreversibly arid and lifeless Back Bay wasteland.

Banning alcohol use during the most critical gestation period in fraternity life is a risky step. Once the precedent is set, who knows where it may end. Other activities will be next to fall. No alcohol during Undergraduate Association Council meetings? I shudder at the thought.

And then there are the political implications. Is it fair to deny the masses of legal 21-year-old frosh their constitutional right? First they ban alcohol, then they go after speech. The next thing you know, we'll have a warden on every floor. I won't stand for it.

A more important point is that rush is supposed to allow orientation. Freshmen visit houses and meet members to get a feel for what living at a fraternity house might be like. How can MIT surreptitiously pretend that alcohol is not present? Will freshman really believe that belly didn't come from beer? IFC President Jason D. Pride '97 argues that we shouldn't let alcohol affect a freshman's housing decision. Hypocrisy ain't just a river in Egypt.

For their part, both IFC and RCA should be worried about getting a better turnout for fraternity rush. It is critical to the success of both the dormitory and ILGsystems. How can they honestly believe that things will get better between rushers and rushees if neither of the two parties is nursing a brewski?

When you've got a freshman stuffed to his collar with steak and lobster, thrown into temporary quarters, denied sleep, forced to fall on people and play with rope, and harassed by eager bidders around the clock, you obviously haven't staked a big claim on the quality of his judgment. Freshmen need to be made aware of what the ILG system has to offer, and how the fraternity system is inevitably "based on alcohol," as Pride admits. How they actually decide should be left to them, and not dictated by the deans.

If anything, an ethanol-induced stupor might be just the thing our freshmen need to while away those rush week blues.