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Frosh and Frats Suffer Without Information

Andrew J. Kim

"Is MIT trying to kill fraternities?" I've asked myself this question too many times in the short time I have been here. The latest reason to ask this question stems from the announcement of the new Orientation 98 and subsequent changes to rush. The revamped system has significant improvements, but the changes to rush are staggering, and much like other administrative proposals in the recent past, ill-conceived.

First off, the people most affected, students, had no real input on these drastic changes. To hear Dean for Undergraduate Curriculum Kip V. Hodges openly admit that students were purposely left off the important decision committee is nothing short of amazing. The irrational changes to rush reflect this absolute disregard for the fraternities, and most importantly, the disregard for the victims soon to be known as the Class of 2002.

Summer rush activities, including phone calls, mailings, and parties, have been mercilessly axed without any real alternatives. Summer is a crucial period because it offers a relaxed time to meet freshmen. The phone call is important because it gives fraternity members a chance to talk to freshmen. It is a great learning process for both involved. I remember gaining important information about houses and life in general at MIT; no doubt, the people on the other end gained information about me and how I would fit into their respective houses. These phone calls offer incoming freshmen a chance to start sorting out the mess of rush before they even arrive.

Along the same lines, rush books mailed in the summer also help freshmen. Some may view them as an onslaught of junk mail, but the information in the books shows the distinct personalities of houses better than a paragraph blurb in some booklet. As for the reply card concept, I seriously question whether the average freshmen will take the time to fill it out, and the many who do not will walk into rush with even less knowledge than freshmen from years before.

The loss of summer rush parties hurts fraternities because they bring in freshmen. There is nothing better for freshmen than the chance to actually meet some of the people whom they will join in the fall. Although there weren't too many rush parties in my area, I enjoyed the ones I went to because they gave me a chance to meet some other local freshmen, and they allowed me enough information above and beyond rush books and phone calls to make educated decisions about certain houses.

These are some of the changes that are supposed to improve rush for next fall, and that is the sick paradox of the entire thing. Isn't the point of revamping rush to give freshmen more information and time to make wise decisions that will affect them for the next four years? The new rush has been whittled down to two and a half days. Freshmen will not have more information when they arrive in August than in previous years.

Rush is a hectic time; I came to MIT this past fall knowing which houses I would seriously look at from the information I picked up over the summer. The freshmen who walk in this August won't have that ability even with a midway in a gym that allows them to walk around from booth to booth like some high school science fair. Rush will become nothing more than a frenzy of aimlessly running around from house to house instead of seriously evaluating a few houses. That's the contradiction; the new rush gives the Class of 2002 less time and less information to make an educated decision.

I have a hard time making sense of the new rush. The changes seem to hurt both sides: houses looking for fresh new faces and freshmen looking for new homes. It drains vital pools of information available in the summer, and trivializes rush to a card table in a gym for five hours and a short weekend. The only good news out of all of this is that there is still time to make significant revisions. I sincerely hope that the administration listens to some student input and makes some real "improvements" for rush in the near future, for the sake of the fraternities of MIT and for the sake of the Class of 2002.