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R/O, Sorority Rush Need Retooling

I came back to campus early this year to work during Residence and Orientation Week, both as an R/O worker for my dormitory and as a Dormitory Council Judicial Committee worker. I experienced enough of R/O's subtle flaws to nearly give up my resolve not to murder. Since I could not place blame on any specific person I guess this was a moot point anyway.

The largest problem I see with R/O, and the one which has prompted me to write this letter, is the rather questionable status of female freshmen at the beginning of R/O. They miss out on the real point of R/O's biggest event, Killian Kick-Off.

The Women's Convocation is kind of a consolation prize, but the inconsistency does not end there. The main point of the Women's Convocation seems to be to convince female freshmen to attend sorority rush. Indeed, I have met with female freshmen who thought it was mandatory to attend sorority rush and they were not happy about it. For Friday night and Saturday morning perhaps this is okay, but not after dormitory R/O begins, when freshmen need to put some effort into finding out where they will live, seeing as sororities are a non-residential option, at least for freshmen.

At this point sorority rush becomes parasitic to the main intent of R/O: acquainting freshmen with living options with the goal of having them happily housed within the week. As an R/O worker for my dormitory, I actually gave a tour to the parents of one female freshman. Their explanation was that their daughter did not have enough time to see all the dormitories. My knee-jerk reaction was to snap back, "There are at least 1,000 other freshmen in the same position and I don't see their parents here." But I said nothing, and later it caused me to think more carefully. I'm sure a lot of parental influence goes into living group choice, but it should not have to be this direct.

R/O is a hectic time and sorority rush just makes it more so. To alleviate this problem, I believe sorority rush should be moved. Move it to Independent Activities Period, to sophomore year, to the middle of term, to activities week during R/O, whenever, but away from residence selection.

What are female freshmen to do Friday night and Saturday afternoon before dormitory R/O begins? We already have a few living options that are coed or all female. I personally spent my time touring them. We should probably concentrate on adding to this small number. Since MIT seems loath to create more dormitories, independent living groups are one way to fill the gap in housing. Since I am happy where I live now and am going to graduate soon, I'm not really a candidate for starting this effort, but I am sure there are others who would like to. Those who do not want single-sex living or socializing (both male and female) have little to do Friday night. More coed options would alleviate this problem.

Or, we could actually open up dormitory R/O Friday night. In my duties as a Judcomm worker I ran into several female freshmen who were tentatively exploring dormitories Friday night and Saturday afternoon. When I asked them about sorority rush they professed to be uninterested in it. I also encountered male freshmen in the same position. People touring dormitories during this time get an unfairly incomplete picture, because dormitories are not really prepared to entertain freshmen.

An additional problem I have with sorority rush is in the happenings within it. While I was sitting in the the main lounge of my living group I watched one of my housemates enter the room wearing more than a normal amount of make up caked upon her face. This is a person I have never seen wearing make up before. When I questioned her she replied that it was mandatory for sorority rush.

I think it is sad that such falsification is part of one of the first activities to which many female freshmen are subjected to at MIT. We need to move sorority rush away from R/O, where it does not belong, and open up more options on Friday night for female freshmen and freshmen who do not want single-sex housing.

Christa R. Ansbergs '98