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Like MIT, UC-Berkeley Freshmen Rush Greeks

By Frank Dabek

This article is part of The Tech’s continuing series examining residence selection at MIT’s peer universities.

Rush is under way this week at the University of California at Berkeley and freshmen are participating. The school is, like MIT, one of the dwindling number that allows freshmen to live in greek organizations.

Like MIT, Berkeley depends on its greek system to provide additional spaces in an overtaxed residence system. The Daily Californian, Berkeley’s student newspaper, reported yesterday that the school’s 5,200 bed residence system was being forced to crowd doubles into triples to meet the school’s guarantee of housing to all freshmen.

Space constraints prevent Berkeley from guaranteeing all students housing. In fact, 50 percent of those reapplying for university housing were denied, said Michelle Kniffen, manager for residence and housing assignments. Only 54 spots are vacant in the 5,200 bed system. said Berkeley’s greek adviser Jerred Schere.

Over 1,700 students live in Berkeley’s greek system according to Schere. Each year about 400 to 500 students pledge greek organizations, he said.

Summer dorm choice

Freshmen who wish to live in dormitories must apply during the summer before they arrive on campus and are made an offer later in the summer, Kniffen said.

Freshmen may rank the residences according to their preference but are not guaranteed to receive their first choice.

To aid freshmen in their residence selection, the university provides a booklet describing each residence option as well as virtual tours of housing on the web.

While Berkeley does allow freshmen to live in approved off-campus housing it does not ease the move to the same extent that MIT does.

For instance, students must accept offers of university housing in the summer, before the fall rush. According to Schere, they are financially liable for the remainder of those contracts after rush.

It is common practice at the Institute to allow students to terminate dormitory contracts if they wish to move into an Institute-approved off-campus living option.

Both schools accord fraternities with a similar status of ‘approved housing’ and distinguish them from, for instance, private apartments. Berkeley freshmen, like MIT’s freshmen, are not permitted to live in such residences.

Berkeley fraternities also house non-members more frequently than their MIT counterparts. About a quarter of the residents of fraternities are not members of the organization, Schere said. Sororities, however, are entirely filled by members of the organization.

The Berkeley housing system also contains theme houses similar to those proposed as an addition to MIT’s system. Theme houses are built around African American, Asian Pacific American, Chicano/Chicana culture, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender themes.