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Time Spent Elsewhere

By Jennifer Chung

Amidst the loud bustle ofrush lies a haven - a haven where a poor froshling can run to, and remain safely unharassed by the fatigues of housing. A place located Elsewhere.

Okay, so the no-rush zone known as Elsewhere is actually located in the back room of the pleasantly sociable Student Center Coffeehouse - a trivial point. In past years, Elsewhere has been known to take up sanctuary on the fifth floor of the StudentCenter, in the spacious reading room. In fact, it was in the reading room that this reporter first encountered the phenomenon of Elsewhere, and enjoyed it enough to man the location for a few hours this year.

First, an explanation. Elsewhere is "a happy, warm, fuzzy, friendly, rush-free zone,"said Sarah L. McDougal '00, coordinator of Elsewhere. Although primarily "a time-out for Rush," Elsewhere is also "a resource for freshmen to use as they wish," said McDougal.

Elsewhere is staffed by upperclassmen from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day except Tuesday, when it is open until 9 p.m. Freshmen are encouraged to drop in and engage in the stress-free activities available at Elsewhere, should they wish to take a break fromrushing, or merely want an unlonely place to vegetate. In the day or so the lounge has been open, staffers and freshmen have participated in a Hearts tournament, played Jenga, and completed jigsaw puzzles. "The best part is, of course, the puzzles,"McDougal said. Other activities include coloring books, Play-Doh, and assorted board games. Cards, origami paper, and construction paper are provided as other options. Although "the activities are a draw," Elsewhere's main attraction is being a "relaxing, nonstressful place to be," McDougal said.

"Freshmen can discuss what they want,"McDougal said, "but if a freshman feels uncomfortable because another is talking about rush," a staff member should try to change the topic.

One major difference between last year's Elsewhere and this year's is a distinct lack of Fig Newtons and comestibles in general. However, food can be purchased from the Coffeehouse at 25 percent discount for freshmen with temporary ID cards.

Having spent most of Saturday wandering around the Museum of Fine Arts, this reporter was glad to spend her night shift at Elsewhere lying on a couch, practicing origami, and reading a book. The two freshman women Imet at the beginning of my shift were quite affable, and certainly rather relaxed. I witnessed an absorbing game of Jenga before they departed.

Bereft of freshmen upon whom to lavish attention, the other staffer andI engaged in a contentious debate comparing the glorious J.S. Bach and the odious F. Chopin. Throughout the late evening, various upperclassmen stopped by to chat, although no freshmen came by.

Again freshmanless whenI re-visited Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon, I discovered three lounging staffers, chatting amiably amongst themselves. "Even upperclassmen need to veg' out and relax,"said Sara Elice '01, one of the staffers. Ileft during the ensuing philosophical conversation about Vegetarianism.

"I wish more people knew about Elsewhere,"Elice said. Elsewhere is stuck in the strange position of not wanting to over-advertise, and yet wanting to be known well enough that freshmen can seek the area for refuge should they need its protective asylum.

"We try to encourage people to go out and look at their options,"McDougal said. Merely looking at different living groups can give students a "better sense of how the Institute works. One's living group is a very big influence."

Although visiting places is good," rush "can also be hectic." And Elsewhere will always be available for those seeking serenity.