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Residence and Orientation Week News in Review


Indranath Neogy -- The Tech
Heavy rains made for a wet and muddy opening to Thursday Night In the City on Kresge Oval.

The Tech focused on the events and activities of Residence and Orientation Week from Aug. 25 to Sept. 2. Several stories, however, dealt with issues of importance to the community at large. Those stories are reprinted here, in abbreviated form, for the benefit of community members who returned after R/O Week.

MIT Extropian controversy

The MIT Extropians, a group of students advocating an end to affirmative action and new admissions policies, were banned from petitioning the Association of Student Activities for membership until Sept. 1, 1998.

In addition, the ASA found the Extropians guilty of violating the MIT policy prohibiting unauthorized use of mailing lists and student data. The Extropians were found not guilty by reason of ignorance of violating the ASA policy prohibiting non-ASA mailings to incoming freshmen.

"This unauthorized mailing is one of the most severe infractions of MIT policies by a student group in several years," wrote the board in its decision.

"We thought the ASA trial was a farce," said co-founder of the Extropians Jason P. Davis '98 in response to the ruling. "We thought it should have never come to that. Our academic freedom of speech should not have been curtailed in the first place."

The Extropian controversy began in mid-July when the group submitted an eight-page brochure for inclusion in the ASA activity information packet sent to incoming freshman in mid-July.

The ASA is overseen by the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, which reviews the brochures from student groups for appropriateness before sending them out. Former Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski "pulled this one out and said she thought it wasn't appropriate," said ASA President Russell S. Light '98.

CPs arrest convicted bomber

A New England man who accused the Campus Police of harassment when they arrested him last month is a convicted terrorist bomber who was once on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list.

Richard J. Picariello, 48, was arrested for trespassing and other charges in the lounge on the second floor of the Student Center on the evening of July 22.

Picariello was convicted in 1977 and 1978 for bombing an airplane at Logan Airport, National Guard trucks, a courthouse, and a power company headquarters, for robbing a bank, and for interstate transportation of explosives. He served federal and state sentences for those crimes until 1993, and was then imprisoned in Maine for parole violations. Picariello has spent more than 25 years in prison for various crimes.

Rain alters several R/Oevents

Intermittent rain forced Killian Kick-Off, the event that opens rush, out of the court that shares its name and into the Johnson Athletics Center. The event was last indoors in 1985.

The new location caused several changes to the program. The three speakers who were scheduled to introduce the various living options all gave abbreviated versions of their speeches.

For the first time in seven years, Project Move Off Your Assumptions, which normally begins in Kresge Oval and migrates to Briggs Field, was moved inside because of rain. The event was moved to four different indoor locations - DuPont Gymnasium, Rockwell Cage, and the two floors in Johnson.

Class of 2001 demographics steady

The Class of 2001 was made up of 1,077 students, relatively steady compared with last year, said Associate Director of Admissions for Information Services and Research Elizabeth S. Johnson.

The percentage of women in the entering freshmen class decreased to 38 percent from last year's figure of 42 percent. This was because a lower percentage of women were admitted, Johnson said.

Seventeen percent of the Class of 2001 are members of underrepresented minority groups, a slight drop from last year's figure of 18 percent.

Mississippi is the lone unrepresented state in the freshman class, Johnson said.

Several changes marked rush 2001

Thursday Night Dinners was revamped and renamed, said Wesley T. Chan '00, R/O logistics manager. The new name, Thursday Night in the City, reflects the move away from just going to dinner, he said.

There was a light barbecue after MOYA, for people who did not want to participate in Thursday Night in the City, Chan said.

In addition, MOYA itself changed with the removal of Tech Trek, an Institute-wide scavenger hunt that took place immediately after MOYA, and the addition of new problem-solving games to challenge the creativity and skills of the incoming freshman, said Reshma Patil '00, R/O publicity and personnel manager.

Sorority rush also saw some major changes this year, said Joanna F. Au '98, vice president of rush for the Panhellenic Association.

This year, sorority members were allowed to answer direct questions from freshmen. Previously, they were not allowed to speak to freshmen outside their sorority's designated rush room.

"If they ask what sorority you're from, you can tell them," Au said. However, if they ask too many questions, we're supposed to direct them to explore the sorority rush process, Au said. "We're not allowed to rush them outside the rush rooms."