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LETTER

Fed a Line by FSILGs? -- But Not Their Best

The other night, I went to the international student “ice cream mixer” conjured to allow us, international freshmen and transfers, to learn about fraternities and ILGs -- well, only if we asked unambiguously and specifically about them.

The sacred rules of conduct for rush dictate that a fraternity, sorority or ILG member may not bring up the name of his or her living group, that of other living groups, or the general concept of alternative on-campus housing without direct prompting from a new student.

So a frat brother who wants to recruit potential pledges has to play a mind game with them -- start up a conversation, talk in vague terms about life at MIT, and hope that they pop the question, “So where are you living?”

The whole evening felt like a pickup scene where the sleazy old guys were somehow prevented from using their best lines. So I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know whether people who approached me wanted to genuinely meet me or just to have me do their laundry as a future lowly pledge.

I’ll admit that after a few minutes of confusion (due to the fact that I didn’t know about these rush rules at first) and then bewilderment (that MIT would actually sanction such a ridiculous environment), I eventually managed to find a few interesting people to talk with and candidly learn about fraternity and ILG living. So it wasn’t an entire loss.

Still, I constantly felt a cloud of obsequiousness hanging over the room, and I was always skeptical that I was just being fed a line. But if I was, I guess I can’t complain, because I specifically and unambiguously asked for it.


Mikael C. Rechtsman