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Faculty Consider Revamping R/O, Housing All Freshmen on Campus

ByFrank Dabek
Associate News Editor

In the wake of recent events, the faculty discussed on Wednesday alcohol-related issues and considered a motion that would mandate that all freshmen be housed in dormitories starting next year.

President Charles M. Vest opened the meeting by speaking about events following the death of Scott S. Krueger '01. Speaking of the voluntary ban imposed by the Interfraternity Council and Dormitory Council, Vest said that "compliance, while certainly not complete, has been extensive." He said that the ban has "created discussion and thought" and thus fulfilled much of its objective.

Vest also informed the faculty that formal investigations were underway and said that "MIT is being fully cooperative with these investigations."

It is "tragic the way this debate has been catalyzed" Vest said, but he reinforced the need for planning and said if "rapid actions are taken without sufficient attention to detail, we will make mistakes."

Vest also announced that Head of the Department of Biology Phillip A. Sharp and Chief of Pediatrics and Student Health Services Mark A. Goldstein would chair the faculty and student seminar on binge drinking. He said that the goals of the seminar would be to survey, consult, learn and produce. Approximately six faculty and staff and four students will serve on the committee, Vest said.

Freshman housing discussed

Vest began the discussion on possible changes to campus housing by noting that enrollment targets will have to be decided in the near future. Vest said that "significant additional changes [to Residence and Orientation Week]" are being considered. He also confirmed that the construction of a new dormitory is moving forward. An architect will be selected immediately, and a client team will be appointed soon, Vest said.

Stephan L. Chorover, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, brought to the floor a motion reading, "It is the sense of the faculty that commencing the academic year 1998 all freshmen should live on campus." The motion was seconded and will be voted on at a later meeting.

"Increasingly, the impressions students gain [of MIT] are set long before they encounter the [faculty] and before they see the inside of a classroom," Chorover said.

Dean for Undergraduate Curriculum, Kip V. Hodges PhD '82 spoke about the responsibility of faculty to orient freshmen to MIT.

"This is not a purely bricks and mortar problem," Hodges said. He asked faculty to become personally involved and create a "better educational environment for undergraduates."

Hodges said that R/O should change to be "a lot more O and less emphasis on R."

Paul E. Gray '54, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, followed up on Hodges' statements. It would be "enormously constructive for the Institute if faculty would take responsibility for the orienting of our youngest colleagues," Gray said.

Gray called the current R/O system a "lousy way to introduce 1,000 young people to the complexity of MIT."

ILG system debated

Professor of Urban Studies and Planning Lawrence S. Bacow '72 said the current R/O system is an"accident of history" and that "if our system did not exist today, we would not invent it." Bacow proposed several changes to the "madhouse that constitutes R/O week."

Bacow also noted the value of the independent living groups. "The ILG system is a very valuable part of our culture," he said.

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Bettina Voelker '89, a signatory of a document created by several ILGs including Epsilon Theta, Fenway House, No. 6 Club, pika, StudentHouse, Tau Epsilon Phi, and the Women's Independent Living Group, said that "ILGs have emerged that are very different" from traditional fraternities. These ILGs are a "unique part of MIT's culture," she said.

The motion that all freshmen live in dormitories would "especially endanger the existence of these independent living groups," Voelker said.

Iddo Gilon '98, president of the IFC, urged the faculty to "get to know the residence systems" and to "visit where [the students] live" before they make a possibly "detrimental decision."