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Attention Sororities: Please, Try to Keep it Down This Year

Column by Stacey E. Blau
Opinion Editor

Today, for you, it's Friday. For me, as I write this, it's Thursday night, my last night of freedom. No, I'm not getting married or joining a convent tomorrow. I'm talking about the beginning of rush, or, more specifically sorority rush.

I am one of those denizens of the fourth floor of the Student Center. For freshmen or anyone who doesn't know, the fourth floor is where many of the MIT student activities that have office space reside. The Undergraduate Association (your student government), the Lecture Series Committee (the folks who show you movies every weekend), Alpha Phi Omega (the co-ed fraternity that does lots of community service), the MIT Science Fiction Society (the people who read tons of sci-fi books), and, yes, The Tech, all reside on the fourth floor of the Student Center.

Some sororities have houses, and some don't, so to keep a relatively level playing field, sororities do their rushing in the Student Center. Two of them are on the fourth floor every year - one right next door to The Tech. And one of the prices, one of the heavy prices, that we fourth floor-types have to pay every Residence and Orientation Week is enduring sorority rush.

Sorority rush is kind of my view into Greek life for the week every late August. In favor of the Panhellenic Association, I'll grant that the women won't drag you like mad off Killian Court (or from Johnson Athletics Center - if it does indeed rain) like the fraternities do. The women's convocation, while of course serving the same goal of getting people to rush, makes a big effort to give you a civil introduction to independent living groups.

But once the women get to the fourth floor, that's where it seems to end, particularly for those of us who are upperclassmen and don't really want to be a part of rush. But no one, not even they, will or can deny some of the silliness - and shrillness - of sorority rush.

First, there's the hallway situation. Women (and, to be fair, other groups) paint, paint, and paint more drop posters and murals that they hang in their rush rooms to make them pretty. It would all be nice, but the posters are painted in the middle of the hallway, making it impossible for anyone to walk by without nearly falling over. Then there is the bathroom situation. Each year, the sorority on this side of the hall converts the men's bathroom into a women's bathroom, leaving men on the floor nowhere to go downstairs or upstairs. I sympathize with those men, because like Annie said, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and their ain't no two ways about that. If the men on this floor had any sense, they'd go reclaim that room, but at a minimum, I'd recommend that the women using that bathroom watch out for emergency situations.

There's also the halogen situation. Matters of electricity represent sort of a delicate situation on this side of the floor, and the large numbers of halogen lamps that sororities truck in each year to make their rush rooms as blinding as the sun doesn't help the power situation any. The women should thank their lucky diamond stars around their necks that MIT takes a hands-off attitude to almost everything that students do, including the creation of massive fire traps in the Student Center.

Most of all, though, the really serious matter on this floor during sorority rush is the shrillness situation. I'm talking, first of all, about my ears. Sorority rush is, of course, a happy affair, with sisters showing freshman girls what a joyous thing sorority life is (but, of course, everyone will tell the frosh, don't mistake sorority life here for being anything like it is at those state schools). To that end, the sororities sing, they cheer, they squeal (especially when rushees decide to pledge come the beginning of the week).

But our ears - they can take only so much. Once the voices reach a certain pitch, we want to run for the hills, but the only option we have is to shut the glass doors in the hall. When those ceremonies start, it's like all the women suddenly become Mariah Carey clones, making sounds so high-pitched that they open garage doors and beckon dogs and other lower mammals (no, not the freshman girls), and we don't know what to do. I know some of these women; during the rest of the year, they don't normally sound like that, at least most of them.

I'm enjoying my last few hours of freedom, but I see the signs of the onslaught. I see the Rho Chi paintings representing all the different MIT sororities on the Technology Community Association door and the little pasted flowers inside, and I know what lies ahead on the fourth floor for the next few days.

Most of all, it's time for the gussied-up girls - the girls who smile and welcome all the freshman girls, the same ones who later collapse from exhaustion and cry from the stress of talking for hours every day about how wonderful their sororities are. The same ones who, after the freshman girl rushees leave after an evening of rushing, whip out freshman picture books and evaluate the girls on their merits.

Yes, it's time for sorority rush. It's a little cruel, both to you girls and to us fourth floor-types. But for both parties, it's over by the end of the week - sort of. It always comes back to the fourth floor the next year. Maybe some of you girls will be our neighbors next August. Be nice - and most of all, please, be quiet.

Stacey E. Blau is a senior majoring in mathematics with computer science. She lives in East Campus but doesn't care if you do.