The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 58.0°F | Fog/Mist

New R/O Messaging System May Change

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

A proposed change to the Freshman Messaging System may limit freshmen to receiving messages only from dormitory terminals.

In addition, a quota may be imposed on the number of messages an Independent Living Group may send per day, and messages sent by ILGs may expire after a certain length of time, said Wesley T. Chan '00, logistics manager for Residence and Orientation.

The limitations on the number of messages sent from those other than Institute officials are designed to prevent living groups from sending messages in mass to freshman, Chan said. "The quota will be high enough to send messages to freshman that they're interested in, but low enough to prevent" mass e-mail.

In addition, messages sent by ILGs may be limited to showing only on dormitory FMS terminals instead of appearing on Clearinghouse terminals so that other living group workers will not see the message, Chan said.

FMSand Clearinghouse are two separate systems, Chan said. "The primary mission of FMSis to effectively deliver messages to freshman."

Messages will be sent over the FMS from the R/O center, which will receive messages from parents; the administration; the office of Residence and Campus Activities; and ILGs.

"In no way is the FMSdesigned to be a Clearinghouse system," said IFCRush Chair Jorge F. Rodriguez '98.

Clearinghouse exists to track the location of freshman during Rush and to prevent Rush violations.

Still, messages sent from R/O workers or administration officials over the FMSwill appear when freshman are checked into Clearinghouse in an ILG.

ILGopinions differ on system

Many living groups said that the proposed limitations on the FMS would not be cumbersome. "It's not necessary to use the FMSbetween the fraternities because the IFChas rules regarding phone messaging and there's a decorum behind it," said Rodriguez.

"Since freshman don't normally go back to dorms they might not get a message for the entire Rush," said Zeta Psi Rush chair Christopher R. Laughman '99, who felt that the changes could have a negative effect on the system.

"I don't think [the changes] could affect my house very much we don't do a very hard rush" said Student House Rush chair Aimee K. Horr '98.

Benjamin J. Moeller '99, rush chair for Phi Sigma Kappa, said that the system "would definitely be more useful than the system last year" when dorms didn't participate in Clearinghouse.

"There are some effects but it's not a major thing a lot of time we try to talk to [freshman] in person or on the phone"said Delta Upsilon Assistant Rush chair Jeffrey L. Steinheider '99.

Assistant Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Neal H. Dorow, who advises fraternities, was out of town and could not be reached for contact.

System to be simple, easy to use

While the features of the system are still under development, the FMSwill be easy for incoming freshman to learn, Chan said.

"We're designing the system under the assumption that freshman won't have Athena accounts or won't be familiar enough with [Athena] to use it" for messaging.

The messaging system will feature only one-way communication to the freshman. "It's not an electronic mail system."

Security on the system will be maintained through passwords issued to freshman when they arrive on campus. "The messages sent will be as secure as any messages sent over the Internet,"Chan said.

Still, the system will not be used if especially important messages are received at the R/O center. "If there are any urgent messages, the [Campus Police] will hand-deliver them," said Chan.

TheFMSwill include terminals located near each dormitory's desk and messaging when freshmen check into ILGs. Freshman will not be required to check their messages. Still, "we've thought of every possible thing to get freshmen to check their messages," Chan said.

Frank Dabek contributed to the reporting of this story.