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Residence and Orientation Week News in Review

By Frank Dabek
Staff Reporter

The Tech focused on the events and activities of Residence and Orientation Week from Aug. 22 to Aug. 30. Highlights of important stories are summarized here for the benefit of community members who returned after R/O.

Freshman class diverse, select

This year's freshman class totals 1,081 students, down 49 from last year. The freshmen were selected from 8,022 applicants, giving a 24 percent acceptance rate. This was the lowest percentage accepted ever.

The freshman class showed a leveling-off in the numbers of women but increased numbers of minority students. Forty-two percent of the Class of 2000 is female, a number equal to last year, and 18 percent are members of underrepresented minority groups, up from 14 percent from last year.

MOYA, Dinners revamped

Project Move Off Your Assumptions and Thursday Night Dinners both had a new look to them this R/O.

MOYA divided freshmen into small groups - named as chemical elements - for trust exercises and the opportunity to get acquainted.

Tech Trek, called "a great new finale" by Institute R/O Publicity and Personnel Manager Erica R. Fuchs '99, sent freshmen on a scavenger hunt around campus to answer riddles that would be used to decode a message.

Tech Trek received mixed reviews from freshmen. Cindy H. Liang '00, alluding to the fact that even MOYA leaders were not aware of the details of the event, said that "it was confusing because no one knew what was going on."

Thursday Night Dinners were also revamped this year in an attempt to avoid a reoccurrence of last year's event in which the Campus Police were needed to control a crowd of upperclassmen who rushed out of Kresge Oval before the end of MOYA to collect freshmen.

The event was moved inside Johnson Athletics Center, and groups were limited in the number of representatives that they could send. The event went smoothly and Thursday Night Dinners, an event which many feared would be phased out of R/O week, appears to be secure for at least the near future.

Sig Ep violates rush rules

Rush began in Killian Court after a keynote speech by Van Van '97 who described going through rush as being "thrown to the wolves."

Even before rush began, however, a potential rules violation by Sigma Phi Epsilon was already being investigated. Sig Ep ran an ad in the August 23 issue of The Tech, before the official beginning of rush.

Sig Ep claimed that any violation was not intentional and that they mistakenly believed that The Tech would be coming out at around 6 p.m. on Friday at the start of rush.

Interfraternity Council Judicial Committee Chair Christopher G. Rodarte said that Judcomm is looking into the violation.

Clearinghouse, rush rules change

This year also saw a number of changes in rush rules. Dormitories were allowed to host events on Friday of rush for the first time, and the Clearinghouse tracking system was not used by dormitories this year. Instead, dormitories only took emergency messages for freshman at their front desks.

In spite of the change in the dormitory events rule, nearly all dormitory entries on Friday's edition of The Daily Confusion were erased from the printed version because of a communication mix-up.

With Clearinghouse gone, messages from fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups were sent to the R/O Center and later delivered to dormitories by members of the Dormitory Council. Assistant Dean for RCA Neal H. Dorow, adviser to FSILGs, said that the new messaging system made it "more of a guessing game" for FSILGs to find freshmen.

Rush was generally slower and more competitive this year. Factors that contributed to a slow rush included the rains which dampened some events and the new message system, which Pika Rush Chair Margaret D. Harbaugh '98 said "made things a lot harder for us."

Pi Lambda Phi house roof burns

Pi Lambda Phi fraternity experienced a fire on the roof of its house last week.

The fire, which began on the roof from as of yet unknown sources, caused damage to the roof of the building.

The upper two floors also sustained some water damage. Some members of the house were temporarily moved to Ashdown House and power was lost for a day on the damaged floors but the house was reoccupied quickly and the fraternity is, in fact, planning a "Burning Down the House" theme party this weekend.

New trends in dorm crowding

This year's rush was slower than in past years. Predictions for crowding were originally around 120 freshmen, but about 150 freshmen were actually crowded.

In addition, dormitories showed new trends in subscription. Senior House, a traditionally undersubscribed dormitory that was newly renovated over the summer, was oversubscribed by nine spots, while the usually popular Baker House, with 118 openings, had only 51 freshmen rank it as their first choice.

Despite complications arising from the high numbers of freshmen requesting non-smoking rooms, most freshmen got their first choice and almost no one received assignments lower than their fourth choice.

Single-sex housing requests did not pose the same problem as they did last year. "We were able to accommodate almost all of the single-sex requests," said Staff Associate for Residence and Campus Activities Phillip M. Bernard.

Essay evaluation results poor

With the continuation of last year's harsh grading, performance on the Freshman Essay Evaluation remained poor this year as 80 percent of freshmen failed the test, a slight improvement over the 83 percent who failed last year.

The ultimate deficiency of the system is that it fails so many freshmen but offers so few writing classes to help them learn to write better, said Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Travis R. Merritt.

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on 9/6/96.
Volume 116, Number 39.
This story appeared on page 20.

This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write to archive@the-tech.mit.edu for additional details.