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Over-hyped Rush Does Little More than Dissapoint

Guest column by Naveen Sunkavally

Sitting in Johnson Athletics Center minutes before the event that would determine the destiny of every freshman for the next four years, I could not help but notice a certain tension that pervaded the sticky air. Freshmen had just finished watching a rather boring skit, listening to a few fist-pumping songs, and sucking up the last few drops of ice cream meant to calm their nerves. They had just finished laughing over interjections like, "Let the rush begin!" made by a couple of exuberant and insecure freshmen. Everyone's expectations were high.

The truth, however, was that freshmen did not know quite what to expect. Ever since the beginning of summer, they had received a veritable load of pamphlets, e-mails, phone calls, invitations to parties and other miscellanea - all of which spared no space to allude to some epic event vaguely referred to as "rush."

A certain pamphlet by the MIT Extropians compared rush to the fleecing of sheep by fraternity lords. When freshmen arrived on campus, one of the first questions they asked was, "What is this rush?" Later on, they sat through Project MOYA groups that encouraged them to move off their assumptions and R/O survival sessions that proved quite aptly named. Freshmen responded cynically to a list of countless rules that declared things like the fact that fraternities are not allowed to show their letters before the start of rush. Even the word "rush" drew blank stares.

Then the moment came, and then the moment passed. Fraternity members did not rip off their shirts and scream primordially but merely removed their shirts and yelled in a rather hushed tone. Gradually, freshman, more befuddled than ever, quietly trickled out of the auditorium like a carted treasure behind some fraternity members.

A few minutes later, I was talking to a couple of salesman advertising their fraternity. I was disappointed. They didn't offer me drugs or cigarettes or beer. They did not force me to perform obscene activities. Everything ran so smoothly. Where was the violence the R/O survival session warned of, and where was the hectic atmosphere? I visited other fraternities and found the situation to be the same there, too. My expectations, or lack thereof, were shattered.

Why was rush so hyped up, and why does the administration enforce stringent rules like not allowing fraternity members to show their letters before rush? Why are freshmen carted into MOYA groups and sent through R/O survival sessions?

I have come to the unsavory conclusion that rush is intentionally hyped up to simply intimidate freshman. Does the administration think freshmen so gullible as to lose their open minds at the mere sight of fraternity letters? Frankly, I think part of all the hype fueling rush is meant to tip over vacillating freshmen to join fraternities and alleviate the housing problem on campus.

Perhaps one might view me as cynical. But in another sense, I'm being very optimistic. Many people at MIT have told me that rush is probably the most memorable event at MIT. At least I would like to think that the best events at MIT are still yet to come.

Naveen Sunkavally is a member of the Class of 2001.