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MIT Should Keep Thursday Night Dinners

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the traditional Thursday Night Dinners for freshmen during Residence and Orientation Week. The problem, as I see it, is that there has traditionally been a large group of fraternity, sorority, and independent living group members who try to be the first to offer to take freshmen to dinner. But the reformers want to prevent this so-called charging mob by destroying the whole institution of Thursday Night Dinners.

Since this whole issue began, I have wondered why the charging mob is such a bad thing. While only 17 percent of the freshman class enjoyed Project Move Off Your Assumptions, according to a recent poll, the vast majority of freshmen to whom I've talked enjoyed dinner with upperclassmen, even when the dinners started with a large group of overly-friendly upperclassmen running to meet the freshmen. If having the freshmen enjoy their first few days at MIT is the goal, MOYA should be abolished, not Thursday Night Dinners.

Even if we agree that the mob should be prevented, we can still keep the dinners. The Interfraternity Council Rush Council has come up with several suggestions, all of which seem to have been ignored by the MIT officials in charge of R/O. One of these proposals is to move the place where freshmen meet upperclassmen for the dinners from the Kresge Oval to a more suitable place, like the football field or Killian Court. That would avoid the bottleneck of freshmen coming in, and all upperclassmen would get to meet freshmen simultaneously instead of the upperclassmen in back meeting only the stragglers after the first waves have gone off to restaurants. Another proposal is to send freshmen with their MOYA leaders to meet six or seven upperclassmen at a restaurant, which avoids the issue of a mob altogether. In short, if the charging mob is the problem, destroying Thursday Night Dinners is not the solution.

Why is the IFC so interested in Thursday Night Dinners? Rush. Why should the administration keep Thursday Night Dinners? Rush. It is in the best interests of the administration to have as many freshmen as possible out of overcrowded dormitories and into FSILGs. Many freshmen first encounter "frat boys" at Thursday Night Dinners, and it is the first time that they that see we are not fat, drunk, and stupid slackers who for some unfathomable reason decided to enroll at MIT instead of some party school, where such people belong.

FSILG members are a wide range of people, a range as wide as MIT students as a whole. Thursday Night Dinners are our first chance to show this to freshmen, to convince those who otherwise might not rush to take a serious look at fraternities. In the past three years, my fraternity has met only two of its members through Thursday Night Dinners, but we have many more members who only considered FSILGs because of meeting people at Thursday Night Dinners who dispelled their stereotypes about frat boys.

David W. Lewinnek '97

Rush Chair, Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity