Having had a lifelong affinity for such complimentary products as toiletries from hotel rooms and sugar packets on restaurant tables, I would never have predicted that I would not wildly sprint, but merely briskly walk, towards free steak and lobster and exciting excursions. As with mind-altering activities, it was, perhaps, to be expected that following the initial rush must come the inevitable exhaustion and, to a certain extent, apathy.
I have gained much over this past weekend (6.523 pounds), and I am most happy and grateful for the food, events, and human contacts the various living groups have provided me. Still, after the overwhelming inundation of freebies, declarations of fulfillment, and promises of lifelong allegiances, I feel that the materialistic rush process hasn’t informed me sufficiently to make one of the most significant decisions that will define my forthcoming welfare. Ultimately, I feel that despite the great testament to self-determination and freedom that rush is supposed to embody, we freshmen are still too naÏve to make the best use of this freedom.
What exacerbates the difficulty of determining the true nature of any entity within a couple of frenzied days is that all of the living groups I have encountered have answered that their “diversity” is what most uniquely characterizes their nature. On a macroscopic scale, there are significant logistical, social, and demographical differences between the various groups; some are known for particularly expressive liberalism, others for smearing Vaseline on railings and doorknobs (presumably to symbolize their desire for a smooth and well-lubricated introduction with freshmen).
However, we sleep-deprived and overwhelmed freshmen must make a specific and final choice of the place of residence. Thus, we must either choose to ignore or seek to ascertain the subtle, but extremely significant, nuances distinguishing each living group. To ignore the differences would be to negate the value of our freedom. To find out a group’s true character, we could stay over at frats or spend considerable time with a particular living group. We lack the time, however, to thoroughly and thoughtfully familiarize ourselves with a sufficient number of various living groups to make a valid comparison among the alternatives.
It is very tempting for us to choose where we are temped, equating familiarity with affinity, or to summarily attach ourselves to the first frat which we find to our liking. Underlying the rhetoric of freedom of rush, it seems, is the phenomenon of imprinting. As we hatch from the shell of childhood and are born into the sound and fury of the world, our need for immediate familiarity and comfort determines, ironically, the outcome of our self-determination.
The significance of this abstract philosophical rhetoric is that the residence decisions we make now have a pervasive and long-term impact on our emotional, intellectual, and social development and welfare. The bidding and lottery process do limit the extent to which we are responsible for what happens to us, but it is unequivocally certain that our hastily made choices will greatly affect our fate.
Thus, in hindsight, it would have been prudent to have refrained from being excessively materialistic. We should have remained intellectually vigilant against the superficial allure of free steak and lobster, and the impulse to become familiar -- and thus complacent -- too quickly. While rush has drawn to a close, this lesson of constant vigilance is truly applicable for our collegiate tenure, and as the next four years will be brief and hectic, we must strive to make the best of our long-awaited freedom.
Roy Esaki is a member of the Class of 2004.