Editorial Positions Sickening, Inconsistent
I am frankly sickened by the lack of consistency with which The Tech has presented itself in its recent editorials on freshman housing. This sentiment came to a head with Tuesday's editorial, "Moving Forward on Housing."
In this piece, The Tech "urges the Interfraternity Council to withdraw its proposal that the new dormitory now being planned be designated as substance-free housing." Is The Tech now saying it doesn't want to hear the opinions which the Interfraternity Council has put forth on dormitory life? This stance is rank with the stench of doublespeak, considering the fact that fraternity life has been subject to the scrutiny of dorm residents and the unwavering fiats of the MIT administration for some months, and furthermore that The Tech supports the order to house freshman in dormitories.
The article later states that "The Tech worries that creating substance-free housing in the dormitory system deprives the system's residents of choice." Again, if The Tech were indeed concerned with the issue of "choice," as it so boldly claims, it would not support the decision to deprive the class of 2005 of exactly that: the freedom to choose. I attend a college where I am incessantly told by propaganda executives that the student body comprises a large fraction of the "leadership of tomorrow;" yet these "leaders of tomorrow" are somehow incapable of making a rational housing decision after they have come of age and partake in legal adulthood.
The Tech also says, "It is the residents of a dormitory, and not the administration, who should make the choices involving the regulation of dormitory life." The Tech seems to forget the dormitory in question is being built specifically to offset the overcrowding brought on by housing all of the freshmen on campus. In the year 2001, it will be the administration, not the dormitory residents (including then the entire freshman class), deciding what the residents' home life will be like. How can The Tech support an administrative fiat on one hand and turn around and speak about the evils of substance-free housing?
If the solution is, as The Tech suggests, to let the dorm residents choose their dormitory setting, this must be extended to all MIT students, and we must realize that our previous system, which began with what was entitled "Residence and Orientation Week," was indeed a beneficial system where all parties involved were given a voice in where they wished to live.
Finally, The Tech has the audacity to suggest the IFC is hindering the progress of the housing debate and not being helpful enough, after complaining about how the IFC was giving too much input on the new dormitory. I see the call for substance-free housing as the IFC's way of calling President Charles M. Vest's bluff. If he indeed perceives fraternities as the source of underage drinking problems on this campus, then by all means, he should offer a safe haven from their influence. If the issue were alcohol consumption, and not Vest's empty posturing for the media, he would indeed follow through with his claims and create a dorm where alcohol would be banned.
You may think I am perhaps angered with Vest, and I am. In my mind, he is the enemy of each and every one of us, for each of us was allowed to choose where we wished to spend our first year here. He has shown me, through his actions, that he would rather spit-shine the boots of reporters than shake the hands of his kindred. He spoke to us all in soothing tones before stabbing us in the very midst of our rush this year, and when caught between the demands of the media and his loyalty to students who contribute to his paycheck, he chose the path of betrayal for around 35 percent of our student body. His decision to house freshmen on campus was and will be a deliberate and calculated death blow to many fraternities and independent living groups on campus, whose hallowed halls enshrine so many sacred memories of our communities, both past and present.
As I write this, my eyes water at the thought of my own home being emptied of residents, a building which has housed for over 30 years men whom I call "brothers." I, for one, am not willing to be sacrificed quietly simply to uphold the glittering whiteness of President Vest's best politician smile, and I'll be damned if the backwards opinion expressed in an editorial will convince me otherwise.
Phil B. Marfuta '01