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R/O 1997 To Feature Altered Dinners, Letters, Messaging

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

As more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students prepare to graduate today, changes are underway that will significantly affect the programs which will introduce the next class to the Institute in late August.

Changes to R/O week and its residence selection period, or Rush, will change the dynamics of the period. Thursday Night Dinners, a period when upperclassmen take freshman out to dinner, will be postponed and renamed Thursday Night Out on the Town, according to Elizabeth Coligriano, who directs R/Oweek in the office of Undergraduate AcademicAffairs.

Pushing back the evening's activities by one hour, to 7:00 p.m., will allow freshman to attend a new "freshman barbeque", Coligriano said.

The barbeque, which will occur in the Kresge Oval and barbeque pits area, will feature hot dogs, hamburgers, and other light dinner items, said Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret H. Jablonski. "The idea is to do some event that creates unity [among the freshman class] on Thursday night."

During the activity, freshman will remain with their Move Off Your Assumptions groups and talk about "life issues and social things that as a freshman you haven't had a chance to talk about," Coligriano said.3.

Last year, freshman participated in Tech Trek, a scavenger hunt through the campus for prizes. "The concept of Tech Trek was really neat,"Coligriano said, but practical details made the event difficult to organize and it has been discontinued this year.

MOYAcounselors will be instructed in how to discuss issues like Rush and the Thursday night activities, Coligriano said. "There are a lot of students here who are 15 or 16 years old. Students are a little worried about leaving the campus."

Upperclass activities to change

Following the freshman barbeque, freshman will enter Johnson Athletic Center for the slightly changed Thursday Night Dinners.

In the past, groups of upperclassmen from living groups and activities recruited groups of freshman to go to dinner at various Boston-area establishments.

Because freshman will have had a light meal before the upperclass activities this year, groups will have the opportunity to go to other locations like movies, ice cream shops, or nightclubs such as Jillians, said Jorje F. Rodriguez '98, the Inter Fraternity Council's Rush Chair. "The barbeque is not meant to be big," said Assistant Dean for Residence and Campus Activities and Advisor to Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups Neal H. Dorow.

Upperclassmen will still have the option of taking freshman to dinner, however. Freshmen"are still going to go out and eat,"Coligriano said.

As in previous years, upperclass students will be required to have freshman back on campus by 10:30 p.m., in order to allow them to prepare for the Freshman Essay Evaluation and Math Diagnostic the following morning, Coligriano said.

Sororities' letters more visible

One of the most visible changes to R/O this year will be the increased presence of living group letters. In past years sorority letters have been confined to group's rush rooms, however this year sorority members can wear their letters before and during rush anywhere on campus, Jablonski said.

In addition, the rules prohibiting sorority members from talking to freshman outside their rush rooms has been revoked,Jablonski said. "Upperclass women will be able to talk to freshman women about anything in general," provided it does not relate to rushing a specific sorority, she said.

The new policies will also "help communication and cooperation between sororities,"Jablonski said. "Our hope is that trust [between sororities] will grow out of the change."

ILGs with female members also fall under the new policy, said Jorge F. Rodriguez '98, the IFC's rush chair. The IFChopes that "we might get a higher ratio of females rushing" sororities or ILGs, despite the drop in the number of females attending MIT, Rodriguez said.. While 42 percent of the Class of 2000 was female, only 38 percent of the Class of 2001 is.

Like all other students, sorority members will be prohibited from wearing their letters during Killian Kick-Off and when working at official R/O events or facilities like the R/O center, Coligriano said.

Frosh to utilize messaging system

For the first time in over twenty years, freshman will not be tracked by a centralized system as they visit dormitories and ILGs.

Clearinghouse, the computerized tracking system that has been used for several years, is being scrapped in favor of an optional freshman messaging system, Rodriguez said. Only fraternities participated in Clearinghouse last year following the decision by the Dormitory Council to withdraw from the system.

When freshmen are in dormitories and in fraternities, they will have the option of logging onto the "freshman messaging system," which will allow them to then read mail from fraternities, parents, and institute officials, Rodriguez said.

The new system "satisfies what the dormitory council wanted to see out of it," Rodriguez said. The dormitories maintained that "the fact that all freshman had to go through Clearinghouse violated the right of the freshmen to decide whether they wanted to go through rush or not," he said.

Last year, FSILGs could send messages to freshman through their temporary dormitories only.

The new system is "going to protect the freshmen," said Next House Rush Chair Eric D. Nielsen '99. "It sounds like it should actually be easier for us than last year's system."

Members of the dormitory council were unavailable for comment.

Dorm rush to begin Saturday

Last year, several dormitories began full-fledged rush events before the official beginning of dormitory rush, which occurs one day after the beginning of FSILG rush.

The Dormitory Council, in cooperation with RCA, changed the rush rules last year to allow dormitories to hold small activities for those temporarily housed in their dormitory, Jablonski said. "If McCormick [Hall] wants to have an ice cream social on Friday night, that's fine," she said.

However, miscommunication between RCA and dormitories resulted in many more activities than were intended, Jablonski said. "East Campus went and covered Lobby 7" with posters for Friday events which could not be advertised under the policy, she said.

This year, dormitory rush chairs are more aware of the policies, Jablonski said. Events for temporary residents before Saturday's start of dormitory rush are "not going to be in the Daily Confusion," the daily listing of activities during rush.

The delay of dormitory rush encourages "people to visit the 40 or so ILGs available,"Jablonski said. Dormitories do not need to worry about finding an adequate number of freshman but ILGs do, she said.

"We have seen a lot of people who came to campus saying they didn't want to live in ILGs ending up finding a place that fits their needs" that might not happen if dormitory rush began immediately, Jablonski said.

"The policy as far as we know is we still can have events but we just can't poster for them in advance," Nielsen said. The policies help both dormitories and ILGs.

Dan McGuire contributed to the reporting of this story.