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Rush Alternatives Soothe Frosh

By Dan McGuire
Executive Editor

As fraternity and sorority rush winds down and dormitory activities begin to heat up, some freshmen are making use of Elsewhere, located in the reading room on the fifth floor of the Student Center and Queer Elsewhere, located in 6-233.

These rush-free environments were organized by the Residence and Orientation Week Committee and Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Friends at MIT.

Elsewhere began on Friday, after Killian Kick-Off, and will close up shop this Wednesday morning. Operating hours for this week are from noon to 3 a.m. Queer Elsewhere also began Friday and will run from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day until Wednesday.

Elsewhere was designed to provide a calm, neutral space for frazzled freshmen. "The purpose of Elsewhere is to provide a rush-free environment for the freshmen," said Cindy Phan '98. "A lot of them get stressed out looking for housing [Elsewhere] is a place for them to go to if they don't want to go to other rush events," she added.

Elsewhere serves snacks, cookies, candy, and fruit punch and provides puzzles, games, and Play-Doh to relieve tension. Elsewhere is "Mostly a service for them. We're not trying to get them to do anything; we're just giving them a place to go to" relax, Phan said.

Queer Elsewhere began in 1992 as an alternative to standard Elsewhere. Queer Elsewhere is a "queer-friendly place," said Joaqiun S. Terrones '97, a worker there.

While it, like Elsewhere, provides foods and entertainment, such as movies, video games, and board games, it is also designed to allow freshmen to ask questions of upperclassmen.

"It's not just a place you can hang out. It's also a place for freshmen to ask questions about sexuality, lesbian, and gay life on campus and in Boston," Terrones said.

Elsewheres turnout stable

Thus far it would seem that rush is going fairly well for most students. Elsewhere had a slow evening on Friday, playing host to "probably seven to 10" freshmen, Phan said.

"I think that people have been so heavily involved in rush that they haven't gotten the chance to come back to campus," said Sarah R. Cohen '00, a worker at Elsewhere. Cohen said that she thought attendance would pick up as dormitory rush began near the end of the weekend.

Queer Elsewhere had similar attendance. "On the first night we had two, last night we had four or five people come by," said Damon W. Suden '99, a member of the R/O Sexual Identity Committee.

The turnout was "similar to last year" he said. Suden said that he expected that turnout Sunday evening would be higher because they would be screening the movie "Beautiful Thing," which details the coming out of two teenagers in England.

Students pleased by Elsewhere

Students seemed pleased by the chance to take time off from rush and relax. Elsewhere "is like a great, gigantic, glorious summer camp before our advance to the wonderful world of adulthood" and college, said Jennifer K. Chang '01.

"It's air conditioned, and finger painting is fun," she added. "Yesterday I talked to the counselor for input on dorms and courses."

"I found rush a lot of fun," said Alex S. Park '01. "I think [Elsewhere] is a great place to relax, the food was welcome."