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Orientation Undergoes Further Changes Following Discussion

By Douglas E. Heimburger
News Editor

Rush will be lengthened and fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups will be allowed to send a combined mailing to incoming freshmen, students and administrators working on fall Orientation announced.

The changes come one week after the unveiling of the initial proposal, which severely restricted mailings and shortened the period for rush from previous years.

Under the new proposed timetable, the Freshman Essay Evaluation will take place on Friday morning, instead of Saturday morning as earlier planned. An "awareness"program designed to introduce students to details of campus life such as dealing with roommates will switch places with the FEE and will now happen on Saturday morning, said Duane H. Dreger '99, president of the Interfraternity Council.

Administrators and students said that the swap would be beneficial. Graders of the evaluation asked for extra time to finish evaluating the exams prior to adviser meetings, said Professor and Dean of Curriculum Kip V. Hodges PhD '82. "Istill don't like the idea that the first thing students get academically is that MITis a place you come to be tested," he said.

Students praised the awareness program's move to a time slot after the Residence Midway. The event will "have more impact if people have had more contact with residences"beforehand, Dreger said.

Residence selection will kick-off with an event somewhere on campus following the awareness activity, Dreger said. However, the new kick-off event is "not going to be a Killian grab" and will be a "much lower-key event." Final details of the new event will be worked out in the coming months, Dreger added.

Both dormitories and fraternities, sororities and independent living groups will be invited to participate in the event, Hodges said.

Adviser meetings, which were previously scheduled for Tuesday morning, have been pushed back until Wednesday, allowing for an additional day of residence selection.

The new day "gives people time to tone [rush] down,"Dreger said. Freshman now have extra time to decide things and to make up their mind where to live.

In addition, FSILGs should have extra time to make their decisions under the new plan, Hodges said. Details, such as when the housing lottery will run, have not yet been determined.

The IFCwill begin planning out new rush rules for its members based on the new timetable next week, Dreger said. Dates when bids can be extended and accepted will be determined through the IFC's Rush committee.

Rush books to be mailed in May

In addition to scheduling changes, the new Orientation plans also allow FSILGs and dormitories to mail their rush brochures to freshmen. The Orientation Committee will now mail a single envelope containing rush brochures from all dormitories and FSILGs in late May, Hodges said.

The decision to allow living groups to send out mail to incoming students came after extensive discussion. "Some people [on the Orientation committee] have the feeling that even that kind of access is a sort of intrusive marketing that in a way invades the privacy of the incoming students," said Hodges. "I have no problem at all with sending this information out."

Both FSILGs and dormitories will be encouraged to submit material to be included in the mailing, he said. "I'd like to have it as comprehensive as possible so that the playing field is virtually level."

The mailing will follow a mailing from the Admissions Office that will now include the Freshman Handbook and the Guide to Residence Life, said Elizabeth I. Cogliano, coordinator of student programs and director of Orientation.

Included in the residence book will be a reply card that incoming students can use to indicate whether they want residence groups to contact them by phone. Students will be able to indicate whether they want all groups, only certain groups, or no groups, to call them, Cogliano said.

Residences will be provided with a list of phone numbers and e-mail addresses of those who wish to be contacted, Cogliano said. Information about students who do not return their cards will not be released to residences.

Freshmen will also be provided with a single sheet providing phone numbers and e-mail addresses of upperclassmen in each living group with the second mailing, allowing freshmen to initiate their own contact, Cogliano said. "Talking to people is obviously not a lost art," she added.

New committee to look at details

The Undergraduate Association revived one of its standing committees last week and charged it with investigating the details of the new proposed schedule and working on changes from the perspective of the undergraduate body.

The new committee, chaired by Ryan K. Pierce '99 and Margaret C. Tsai '99, will initially work with officials inResidence and Campus Activities to produce the guide to residences that will be mailed in early May, Pierce said. "Isee us getting involved in a lot more details" that have not yet been decided about Orientation, she added.

The group will focus more on academic orientation than on residence selection since groups like the IFCand the Panhellenic Council are also working on that issue, Pierce said."Someone has to take an interest in Core Blitz"and other academic events, she said. However, the group also hopes to be involved in details of residence selection, she added.

Members of other student government groups questioned the need for an additional group to look at residence selection. "I don't see how effective it's been, since the IFCis set up to handle things like" questions about residence selection timing, Dreger said. "If they focused a bit more on academic orientation, they could be more effective."

However, the leaders of the new committee defended their group. "The UAis in the middle; it makes a stand that we come up with a little more neutral" than one proposed by a group of either FSILGs or dormitories, Pierce said.

"The whole hope here is that we may be seen as the group that has no agenda, other than doing what's best for students,"Pierce added.

The Dormitory Council selected one of the leaders for the UAcommittee, while the IFCselected the other, Dreger said. "As long as things continue in that fashion, Ithink the UAis effective."

Many details still undecided

While "there will be changes and there will be tweaks"to the current proposed schedule, the general schedule is now in its final form, Hodges said.

The final basic schedule for Orientation must be prepared by Monday so that a preliminary version of the freshmen handbook will be available for prospective students to view during visits in April, Hodges said.

Many logistical issues still remain, such as the placement of tables during the Residence Midway, but those details will be decided during the next few months, Cogliano said. Three Orientationinterns who will coordinate the entire program will be hired in the next few weeks and 15 students will be selected to serve on the Orientation Committee.

"I want to get students involved every step of the way on the details,"Hodges said. "Does this mean that we're going to cede development on this to the students?Probably not. It's a difference between student control and student input in the decision-making process."

Hodges defended the committee that drew up the initial proposal made last week, saying that the informal committee needed to be made up of faculty and administrators. "This was one of those things when I had to get a committee together so that when we came up with suggestions that I wasn't going to get a huge pushback from faculty committees and administrators that would say No, we don't want that.' That would be counterproductive for us."

Student input from previous forums, like the open meetings on freshmen housing in the fall term and the report on housing issued by a committee chaired by Professor of Ocean Engineering J. Kim Vandiver PhD '75 helped shape the discussions over Orientation, Hodges added. "I'd say that at least half of the changes are lifted directly from Kim Vandiver's report and from the IFCrecommendations"issued last fall, Hodges said.

The changes made this week were reasonable, Hodges added. "I like the idea of compromise as long as [it] doesn't compromise the core desirable elements of orientation.Ithink the changes are ones that pretty much everyone can live with."

The dialog between students and administrators has been healthy in the past week, Hodges said. "Ifeel good about the way things are going."

In the end, "We can end up with something that we can all be proud of,"Hodges said.