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R/O Experiment to Address Race, Gender, Sexuality

By Zareena Hussain
Associate News Editor

One of the experiments of this year's Residence and Orientation Week is a program called Stand Up which is intended to allow freshman to learn about themselves and each other, while addressing issues of race, gender, and sexuality that may be overlooked during the frantic schedule of rush.

Stand Up will take place tomorrow from 4 to 6 p.m. in Kresge Oval. The rain location for the event is DuPont Gymnasium.

There will be approximately 30 counselors on hand for the estimated 600 to 700 freshmen participating, said Joaquin S. Terrones '97, one of the organizers for the event.

MOYA's failings remedied

The idea for Stand Up began as a replacement for Project Move Off Your Assumptions as a result of the discontent of Stand Up organizers with their own MOYA experiences.

Damon W. Suden '99, one of the organizers, termed his MOYA experience as "traumatic."

"Two or three people would take charge and take control and tell everyone else what to do," Suden said.

While the name MOYAmight imply a learning experience, the organizers of Stand Up are inclined to disagree.

"I didn't learn anything about the people I was with," Suden said.

"[Stand Up] is trying to accomplish what MOYAdoes not, just trying to open [the freshmen's] minds,"said Van L. Chu '99, a Stand Up counselor.

Stand Up will consist of "games that directly relate to the issues but don't involve [their] direct confrontation," Chu said.

Students will be slowly acclimated to the idea of discussing their differences and similarities, Chu said.

"You can't start talking out of the blue about racial segregation," Chu said.

The program is also intended to combat some of the segregation that many feel may exist on campus.

"Tolerance is not enough," Chu said, citing that it is easy to tolerate those with whom one does not associate.

The scope of Stand Up is intended to extend beyond its two hours in duration.

"The goal of the program is to increase awareness of diversity on campus, to start discussions that would lead into the term," Suden said.

"You can't really solve anything in two hours," he said.

Program proposed last spring

The idea for a program that would address issues of diversity during R/O was first brought to the attention of the greater MIT community at a protest staged last spring in order to highlight areas of racial insensitivity on campus.

The protesters listed many demands, one of which was a comprehensive, mandatory program for freshmen during R/O that would focus on diversity.

At this protest, Elizabeth Cogliano, director of R/O, approached the protesters and invited them to propose their program to the R/O Committee, Suden said.

The original plan was designed by Stand Up's four original organizers to replace MOYA, Suden said. It would follow the same time frame as the regular MOYA but focus on discussion of and activities dealing with campus diversity.

The original plan called for Stand Up to last four hours, Suden said. However, because the final proposal was submitted after all the MOYAleaders were chosen, Suden said, it was deemed by the R/OCommittee that the replacement of MOYA by Stand Up should wait until a pilot program is tested this year.

Of the possibility of replacing project MOYA with Stand Up, "I wouldn't go as far to say that we would completely replace MOYA," Cogliano said.

However, there is room for parts of Stand Up to be incorporated into MOYA, Cogliano said.