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Revamped Orientation Will Provide Less Hectic Introduction To Institute

By Zareena Hussain
News Editor

Whether the Class of 2002 knows it or not, they will experience an Orientation that may mark a turning point in the way freshmen are welcomed to the Institute.

The introduction freshmen receive to the Institute, known as Residence and Orientation Week or R/O in previous years, still retains much of its old structure.

For instance, sorority rush is completely unchanged. The rules governing fraternity rush have changed slightly, mainly to account the one-day delay in rush from last year, said Duane H. Dreger '99, president of the Interfraternity Council.

Changing the name of the period to Orientation was designed to mirror the apparent shift in focus from residence selection towards academics while introducing freshmen to MIT.

These changes include the one day delay of Killian Kick-Off, which traditionally marked the beginning of fraternity rush, and the introduction of several events intended to focus on academics, including a welcome dinner where students will be able to meet with upperclassmen and professors for their first official introduction to MIT.

The changes have been designed to "make the first days leading into rush much better and much less hectic than in past years," said Matthew L. McGann '00, logistics coordinator for Orientation.

Rush fears prompt changes

The changes made were also in response to the events of the past fall, events which threw MIT's residence system into the media spotlight.

"We need to realize that that if we did nothing to R/O, chances are it would have a negative impact on rush," said Dean of Undergraduate Curriculum Kip V. Hodges earlier this year when announcing the changes.

The introduction of the Residence Midway on Friday is one of the most significant changes from previous years. At this event, members representing all living groups participating in rush will be on hand to talk to freshmen about their living options.

At the midway, the Daily Confusion, a listing of rush events throughout the week, will be given to freshmen. Previously, rules regarding rush prohibited open rushing until Killian Kick-Off when fraternity rush began.

Unlike previous years, dormitory rush will begin concurrently with fraternity rush. In prior years, dormitory rush was delayed until one day following Killian Kick-Off.

Killian Kick-Off itself, the centerpiece of what was once R/O Week, has also been subdued from past years. Before, as the IFC rush chair would announce "Let the rush begin," there would ensue the traditional mad grab for freshmen. Rules governing Killian Kick-Off this year will prohibit the grabbing of freshman.

There will be "no stepping toward freshmen," McGann said. "[Kick-Off] is being really regulated this year," McGann said.

"It's going to be tamer than usual," Dreger said.

Other changes to Orientation include the elimination of two once-staple components, Project Move Off Your Assumptions and Thursday Night Dinners.

Project MOYA occurred the first day of R/O. Freshmen were separated into groups of ten to twelve and participated in ice-breaker and problem-solving activities under the direction of upperclassmen acting as MOYA counselors. MOYA has been replaced by a new Thursday program, Sports and Wellness at MIT, McGann said.

Following this event will be a barbeque and a new program entitled BaF that is intended as a diversity training program, McGann said.

Thursday Night Dinners, another previous R/O staple, took place shortly after MOYA. Freshmen would gather on Kresge Oval, where upperclassmen would be able to meet freshmen before the beginning of rush and take them out to dinner in Cambridge and Boston.

Since 1995, when a mistake in signaling caused upperclassmen to rush into the crowd of freshmen before the correct time, Thursday Night Dinners have met with some changes, including a move to Johnson Athletics Center in 1996, and a name change to "In the City" in 1997, until it was eventually eliminated this year.

The introduction of several new programs to increase awareness of residential life issues will round out the major changes to Orientation. An alumni panel consisting of three representatives from FSILGs and three from dormitories will advise students on residential issues. The panel will be followed by the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program.

Rules governing contacting and mailing freshmen before their arrival at MIT were also changed from previous years. Fraternity mailings were combined into one summer pamphlet sent to freshmen.

Instead of allowing fraternities access to the list of incoming freshmen, each house was only given information about those who specifically expressed interest in that particularly fraternity via mail-in response cards.