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Prefrosh on a Leash

In its latest display of administrative brilliance, the Institute has made a mockery of Campus Preview Weekend, insisting that prefrosh stay on campus, wear purple wristbands, and agree to adhere to the other provisions of a very contract-like document distributed to prefrosh by Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones.

Fortunately, quick, loud student anger brought this absurdity to campus attention. As many students have independently pointed out, it is only reasonable to expect that prefrosh will behave reasonably during their visit to MIT -- no underage drinking, no outright debauchery, nothing that would seriously embarrass either MIT or the prefrosh.

But tagging prefrosh with wristbands, and requiring them to remain on campus? Ridiculous.

Dean Jones was compelled to e-mail an explanation of her ‘contract’ to several public mailing lists yesterday. As far as prefrosh leaving campus is concerned, Jones claims overprotectiveness as a motive. Prefrosh should be discouraged from visiting rival area schools, she says -- but she names only Harvard, Wellesley, and Brown as examples. Her concern that prefrosh might defect to those respected institutions is, frankly, a bit much to swallow. Surely it’s an unconvincing reason to discourage visitors from experiencing firsthand MIT’s surroundings; if prefrosh can handle the Institute, they can probably stomach Cambridge and Boston.

Jones acknowledges that the wearing of wristbands is “goony,” and suggests that prefrosh “stash” them until they’re needed to gain admission to CPW events. She facetiously suggests that giving prefrosh “MIT watches” would have been a better alternative. The Tech’s preference would have been to distribute temporary ID cards (such as those freshmen receive); those are neither degrading nor expensive.

Not least, Jones wisely capitulated on the contract format. It’s “not the MIT way,” she concedes. She also denied rumors that offending prefrosh would have their admissions pulled. “Look, we took 15 percent of our applicant pool this year and we want these students,” she insists.

That’s good. But the only reason Jones retreated at all from her initial, outrageous position is because students were fast in demonstrating their rightful anger at the administration’s attempt to treat students as sheep before they even enroll.