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Choosing Not To Change

Seth Bisen-Hersh

Professor Ron Loui of Washington University in St. Louis says in his column "A Tragedy With A Difference" [Oct. 21] that President Charles M. Vest should "offer to be removed from his position this year" in the aftermath of the death of Scott S. Krueger '01.

This is audaciously unfair. Vest was not the person who drank the alcohol that Krueger drank, nor was he the person who bought it. He had nothing to do with the unfortunate death.

Loui goes on to say that fraternities have "their own ritual bravado" and that they "manage to find the lowest common denominator in search of some fiction of fun." What kind of jargon is that? Since I am not a member of a fraternity, I wouldn't know for certain, but those statements seem totally false. Fraternities are about brotherhood. From the way I understand it, new pledges must undergo numerous bonding activities

This is not to mention the fact that the brothers are very open to pledges about drinking. I have friends in many different fraternities and know for a fact that if they do not want to drink, they do not have to. It would be wrong to punish all fraternities and change rush just because of one incident.

Another prevalent misconception is the idea that only members of fraternities drink. This is not true. There are many halls and even whole dorms that consume alcohol on a regular basis. Doing away with the fraternity system will not halt the drinking. The two subjects of drinking and living groups are totally unrelated. There are people who drink and people - like me - who don't. This will not change because living arrangements change.

Changing rush would be a bad thing. And this is coming from a guy who had an awful experience in the first couple of days of rush. But it made me grow up and be stronger as a person as I struggled to find somewhere I fit in. And I found a place I liked. That's the glorious thing about this system: We get to pick the people we want to live with. A randomized assignment system would completely ruin the wonderful living groups that have been created throughout the years.

If we switch to a random system, I would feel really sorry for the quiet, shy freshman who ends up in a noisy hall. I know a lot of people, and I do not know a single person who is unhappy with where he or she is living. As it says in the housing guide to MIT that I read this summer, most people find they are with where they live happy and choose not to transfer in later years.

Another topic being thrown around is the proposal for more dorms. Do we need more of them? Of course we do, but this has nothing to do with fraternities or drinking: It is simply a fact. Right now, there are many freshmen who are crowded. If next year all freshmen were required to live in dorms, there would be even more crowding. I don't know about others, but I'm certainly not going 100,000 dollars into debt to be crowded for four years.

When we then have the space for all freshmen on campus (the wrong way to do that is to lower the number of people accepted), we could then think of pushing rush to Independent Activities Period or the spring term - but not before then. And it should not be pushed later because once sophomore year comes around and students have to worry about grades, they are not going to want to make the time commitment to a fraternity. Thus, they may miss out on something they could really get a lot out of.

From what I have heard of one of the parents' meetings this past weekend, many parents said that we are still kids. This is not true. I will not be treated like a kid, and MIT has not treated me like one. If MIT did, I would not have come here. We are in college and are old enough to make our own decisions without parental consent. We are also the brightest in the country. Given the fact these facts, I again see absolutely no reason to change the unique, wonderful way in which this campus is run.

I would like to tell Loui to kindly worry about his own campus and not ours. Drastic, quick changes are never good. I would hope that Vest will not be hasty in the decisions to come. There is no one, definitive way to make this campus have no more problems. But it would be a grave mistake to tamper with the good system that is already in place.