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RSSC Conversation Dominates Council

McGann delivers State of the UA Address; Councillors Criticize RSSC Final Proposal

By Mike Hall

Criticism of the Residence System Steering Committee’s final report overshadowed the year’s first State of the Undergraduate Association address at last night’s UA Council meeting.

Four RSSC members were in attendance to respond to questions from members of the UA Council and other student attendees.

Theme Houses criticize new policy

Residents of Chocolate City provided the evening’s most adamant opposition, criticizing the RSSC proposal to deny theme houses the right to self-select freshman residents.

“Chocolate City is not just a group of black people,” stated Andrew A. Ryan ’00, Chocolate City’s senior co-chairman. Ryan stressed the importance of self-selection in maintaining the spirit of community in MIT’s theme houses. Ryan also accused the MIT administration of grandstanding, stating that “change for change’s sake alone is enacted by those concerned with image.”

Councillors also expressed concern about the loss of community under the RSSC plan.

“Socializing is not a thing that happens on campus efficiently,” argued Zhelinrentice L. Scott ’00, a councillor from New House. Scott insisted that MIT’s residences would lose their individuality with the expected yearly change of residence between freshmen and sophomore year.

“We are destroying a lot of communities,“ said RSSC member Ally H. Pelcyger ’01, in response to Ryan’s comments. Pelcyger further stated that theme houses could attempt to maintain their community by purchasing an off-campus house.

New lottery system also attacked

The proposed lottery system also drew the ire of other meeting attendees. Under the RSSC proposal, freshmen are not guaranteed continued residence in their first-year dormitories. During March of the freshman year, each freshman must accept a bid to a Fraternity, Sorority, or Independent Living Group, enter the sophomore on-campus housing lottery, or find residence outside the MIT system. Sophomores entering the lottery are assigned rooms based on available space. The potential exists to force five to ten percent of sophomores off-campus.

“If a freshman likes his placement, why should he have to re-enter the lottery?” questioned Councillor Jaime E. Devereaux ’02 of MacGregor House. Devereaux also objected to adding stress to the sophomore year, already complicated with the shift from Pass/No Record grading to letter grades for most students.

Student government groups will sponsor four additional RSSC discussions in the next two weeks, beginning with a discussion hosted by the Dormitory Committee in Burton-Conner Dining this evening at 7:00p.m.

McGann presents State of the UA

Following the RSSC discussion, UA President Matthew L. McGann ’00 presented his termly State of the UA address. Citing a desire to make the UA “a little less stuffy,” McGann declared a new “happy hour of cooperation” between MIT’s student organizations and the administration. McGann announced plans for an ad-hoc alliance between the UA and the Graduate Student Council. The proposed alliance would represent students during MIT’s upcoming $1.5 billion capital campaign.

McGann also announced plans for a second meeting between all five MIT student governments to discuss the final RSSC proposal. He emphasized that the governments would offer an alternative housing proposal rather than a second unified response; at the end of last term, the five governments had presented a unified response to the then-most recent RSSC draft.

Additionally, McGann discussed the increased role of the Student Committee on Educational Policy in the upcoming academic year. The SCEP, under chairman Sarah L. McDougal ’00, will assist the faculty in reevaluating the freshman experience at MIT.

Exposing freshmen to advanced research earlier is one of the SCEP’s new goals.

“Freshmen should work with great minds rather than falling asleep in 26-100,” McGann stated. He also discussed the faculty proposal to modify the Pass/No Record status of freshman year.

McGann concluded his address by announcing the new Coordinating Committee, which replaces the former Executive Committee. The six-member Coordinating Committee will handle new business presented to the UA Council.

Following McGann’s speech, speaker Andrew D. Montgomery ’01 presided over the appointment of new officers to UA Council positions. The Council elected Jennifer C. Berk ’01 as UA Council Vice-Chair and Christopher R. Rezek ’99 as the Coordinating Committee member-at-large.

Council members also appointed the Fall Election Commission, consisting of chairman McDougal and members Stephanie Leung, Aaron Ucko, Rezek, and Scott.

The Council also passed a resolution in appreciation of Richard A. Guy ’99. Following the resolution’s passage, the Council observed a moment of silence.