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Sig Ep Ad Should Make Frosh Wary

Column by A. Arif Husain
Opinion Editor

I took Introduction to Psychology (9.00) my freshman year, and it still ranks up among my favorite courses taken at MIT. I enjoyed it because it made me reconsider the knowledge that I took for granted about my own ideas and my ability to be influenced by my environment.

As the trillion-plus-dollar worldwide advertising industry can attest to, people need information to make judgments. As any litigator could tell you, it doesn't take much to sway opinions. Often inadmissible evidence is presented in court then retracted from record, since it is well known that the impact on the jury can not be so easily erased. Apparently, some of the brothers at Sigma Phi Epsilon are familiar with this strategy.

In last Friday's issue of The Tech, a full page advertisement touting Sig Ep's rush activities was run, and appeared on campus several hours before rush campaigning was allowed to begin. Interfraternity Council Judiciary Committee Chair Christopher G. Rodarte '97 said he "is looking into this violation." IFC President and Sig Ep member Jason D. Pride '97, however, claims that he thought the ad would not appear until the 6 p.m. Killian Kick-Off, and he maintained that the violation is "just not our fault." Frankly, I'm disappointed in Pride's creativity. He might have at least tried to blame it on the dog.

Obviously, The Tech does not publish at six o'clock in the evening. I haven't been around for all 116 years of The Tech's publication, but I can say that in the last three, it has never been distributed later than early afternoon and usually appears around 10 a.m. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I would accept that perhaps the brothers of Sig Ep are well versed in the philosophic doctrines of David Hume, and so fail to rely on inductive reasoning. The publication time for last Friday's issue, however, was made clear to Sig Ep by The Tech's chairman, Daniel C. Stevenson '97. Even Hume would have been without doubt.

So we all must wonder, then, why Sig Ep has apparently violated IFC rush rules. Hmm... that's a hard one. The Tech issues over 7000 copies of each daily issue during Residence and Orientation Week. Last Friday, that meant that over 7000 full page Sig Ep rush advertisements went out all over campus, several hours before any other dormitory, fraternity, sorority, or independent living group had a chance. Since FSILGs dedicate a significant chunk of their yearly budgets to rushing, it's not surprising that Sig Ep was apparently ready to accept any fine that IFC might levy. Besides, according to IFCrules, no action can be taken before a hearing is arranged, and such proceedings require a 96 hour notice. For this rush, that means that Sig Ep will go scot-free until next year.

Whatever action IFC decides to take, and whether or not they eventually confirm that the Sig Ep ad was a true violation is not my concern. I'll leave those internal dealings to IFC. What I'm interested in is the apparent disregard by a fraternity of its governing body's rules in order to one-up all of its competitors in a race that is intended to be for the betterment of our freshman class.

From the perspective of this year's rushees, I would have to wonder if such side-stepping would do more harm than good. If I were rushing, I'd be wary of groups that had to resort to such measures in order to gain my interest. As an example, Massachusetts General Hospital rarely advertises in the local papers. Less eminent institutions require much more marketing.