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Bacow Releases Final Report

October FSILG Rush, Summer Dorm Selection Part of Final Plan

By Frank Dabek

Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 released his final report on the future design of MIT’s residence system yesterday.

The report calls for incoming freshmen to select residence halls during the summer before their arrival at the Institute, but it preserves the option of dormitory selection during Orientation. Rush for fraternities, sororities and independent living groups will occur in October, and FSILGs will receive reimbursement from the Institute for housing graduate students.

Based mainly on the work of two groups -- the Residence System Steering Committee and the student-dominated Strategic Advisory Committee to the Chancellor -- Bacow’s report represents a compromise solution aimed at garnering the approval of most groups while working within the constraints imposed by the unpopular decision to require all freshmen to live on campus in 2001.

While the report represents a final decision on the design of the residence system, on many specific points it presents only guidelines or principles. Associate Dean Kirk D. Kolenbrander, who led the RSSC, will head up the effort to implement Bacow’s design and fill in many of the missing details.

Bacow will present the report to the student body today at 5 p.m in 3-270.

FSILG rush moved to October

Bacow, in concert with the Interfraternity Council’s 2001 transition committee, proposes to hold FSILG recruitment activities beginning the first week of October. The report explicitly rejects the oft-proposed IAP rush because of potential damage to IAP’s character.

“I think it is a mistake to say IAP is a non-academic time,” Bacow said. Moving rush to IAP “would change IAP to the detriment of students,” he said.

William R. Dichtel ’00, a member of the IFC’s transition committee, predicted that ILGs will participate both in the October rush and in a small-scale spring rush.

According to the tentative schedule in the report, rush would begin on October 5th and extend through October 27th. FSILGs would be allowed to extend bids starting October 20th, and bids would be accepted starting the 27th. Freshmen would continue to live on campus for the remainder of the year.

FSILGs are widely expected to lose membership during the transition to a system requiring freshmen to live on campus. Bacow’s design provides financial assistance for fraternities during this period by subsidizing the costs of housing graduate students in vacancies. MIT will reimburse graduate students for 80 percent of the rent they pay to a fraternity in the first year. FSLIGs could also choose to leave a room vacant and would receive 60 percent of its fixed cost.

This assistance would decline by 10 percent each year for five years, after which all reimbursements would end.

The report also encourages Boston-based FSILGs to consider relocating to Cambridge. Such a move, the report says, could lead to a tighter sense of community on campus. This plan is only in the “conceptual stages,” however, Bacow said.

Dorm selection moved to summer

Responding to concerns about MIT’s often hectic, bewildering freshman orientation, Bacow’s design shifts residence hall selection into the summer. During this first phase of the selection process freshmen will be provided with information about each hall so they may request either a temporary or permanent room assignment. All students will receive room assignments by lottery before arriving at MIT, and a student requesting a permanent assignment has the right to occupy his or her assigned room for the duration of freshman year.

Students who request temporary assignments or who are unhappy with their permanent assignment may enter an Orientation lottery to receive a final assignment. A period of “dorm rush” would precede the lottery but, like many aspects of the design, the details of such a rush have been left to the implementation committee.

Jennifer A. Frank ’00, president of the Dormitory Council, speculated that a future dormitory rush would be shorter than previous Orientation week residence selection activities and might be compressed into a day or two or held during a few hours each night.

While dorm rush remains similar for most groups, Bacow’s report eliminates the bid process currently used by theme houses inside the residence system (Chocolate City for instance). Under the new design these houses must operate their selection process in the same way as other houses and will not be allowed to exclude specific freshmen.

Sophomore shuffle dropped

Bacow’s report rejects the mandatory sophomore year housing lottery proposed by the RSSC and firmly states the Institute’s guarantee of four years of housing to undergraduates. The so-called “sophomore shuffle” was intended to encourage freshmen to leave the dormitory system and pledge FSILGs.

In its place Bacow follows the SAC’s recommendation by extending the housing confirmation process to include regular lotteries each term. This system of regular lotteries is designed to encourage mobility within the housing system.

The ability of the residence system to provide housing for all interested students still depends, in large measure, on the willingness of freshmen to pledge FSILGs and move out of the Institute residence system. The RSSC had responded to this reality by dropping the Institute’s four year housing guarantee.

By maintaining the housing guarantee, Bacow’s plan relies on the six months of advance notice created by the rescheduled rush to give administrators time to find ways to accommodate any number of rising sophomores. Under the current system freshmen occupy their rooms only a few days after the housing lottery is finished.

Capital improvements suggested

Bacow breaks with the SAC on the issue of capital investment in the residence system. While the SAC proposed $273.5 million over 10 years for direct investment in the residence system, Bacow references capital campaign investments in student life such as endowed chairs for housemasters, support for the Independent Residence Development Fund, and an endowment for athletics.

The report identifies a pressing need for spending money to increase graduate housing but concludes that funds are not available for such a project.

Zareena Hussain contributed to the reporting of this article