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Thursday Night Dinners Avoid Past Problems

Anders Hove--The Tech
Upperclassmen lined up in the Johnson Athletic Center last night as they wanted to whisk freshmen off to Thursday Night Dinners.

By Jennifer Lane
Contributing Editor

The new format for Thursday Night Dinners was greeted with approval by most students last night despite serious doubts early on about the effectiveness of the changes.

"The entire day went smoothly. It was a very positive experience," said Residence and Orientation Week Publicity and Personnel Manager Erica R. Fuchs '99.

Upperclassmen greeted freshmen in the Johnson Athletic Center rather than on Kresge Oval as in years past.

The changes were made in "hopes of avoiding a reoccurrence of last year's events" when Campus Police had to be called in to control the crowd of upperclassmen that rushed to collect freshmen before the end of the Project Move Off Your Assumptions finale.

"This is kind of the last chance for Thursday Night Dinners," said Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean for residence and campus activities and adviser to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, as he addressed the crowd only minutes before the freshmen arrived.

Dinners plan faces initial doubts

The roughly 1,000 upperclassmen who attended the event represented a mix of living groups and student activities.

They pre-registered for a chance to take incoming students out to dinner and were allowed into Johnson between 5 and 5:45 p.m., said Sanjay K. Chugh '97, who was involved with the organization of Thursday Night Dinners. Well over half of the upperclassmen at the event represented fraternities, sororities, or independent living groups, he said

As the upperclassmen waited for freshmen to arrive, many expressed frustration with the new system. "This setup is totally ridiculous. We're not going to be able to tell who is who," said John W. Schlumpf '97.

Even more upperclassmen expressed concern over the safety of the new system. The logistics of having roughly 2,000 people flowing through Johnson had some worried. "There's a strong possibility for death," said Sarah E. Anderson '99.

Schlumpf was also concerned about the behavior of the upperclassmen. "Everyone is going to be jumping over these railings," he said, referring to the traffic barriers that had been set up to control the freshmen's entrance.

Anderson also had doubts about the motivation behind the changes. "There are rumors that this has been done so something will happen and Thursday Night Dinners can be canceled,"she said.

Johnson proves good location

As the freshmen entered, the fears of the upperclassmen proved unwarranted as many apparently had listened when Dorow offered advice before freshman arrived. "This event is for the freshmen. Let them pick where they want to eat. This is their initiation, not yours," he said.

Freshmen entered Johnson slowly and came to a halt at the end of the traffic barriers in front of upperclassmen. To get things started, R/O workers even had to encourage freshmen to penetrate the crowd.

Anderson and others conceded the event was much calmer than she had expected. The system "worked great," said Alexander D. Moskovitz G.

Reactions among freshmen were mixed. When asked if she had been overwhelmed by the crowd, a dazed Cindy A. Reinhart '00 said, "everything today has been overwhelming."

Terrain K. Melconian '00 thought that even though Johnson was a bit crowded, the experience was "wicked cool."

Student groups make changes

The changes to the format of the Dinners were made at a meeting with the Interfraternity Council, the Dormitory Council, and the Association of Student Activities.

In order to be able to fit everyone in Johnson and be fair to all groups, each fraternity was allowed to send only 15 people to the Dinners, and each sorority was allowed 30 people, said IFC member Heather A. Harrison '97. Project MOYAleaders were not allowed to attend the Dinners.

"There were a lot of people who would have liked to have been here but couldn't," said Raeghan M. Byrne '99, referring to MOYAleaders and fraternity or sorority members who were prevented from attending with their student activities or dormitories.

IFC representatives were at each entrance spotting for FSILG members entering Johnson, either with their living groups or with student groups, in order to insure no group exceeded its limit, Harrison said.

Dormcon succeeded in making some needed changes to the Dinners, said Dormcon president Christopher H. Barron '97. Each dormitory group had to register an escort who would take freshmen back to campus if they wanted to leave early, he said.

ASA president Douglas K. Wyatt G repeatedly disavowed any responsibility for the changes, citing concerns over the increased manpower and hours necessary to pull the event off with relatively little actual difference from past years.

CPs and administrators were at every entrance to control the crowd, and representatives from Dormcon, IFC, and ASA checked in groups.