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New Burton-Conner Policy Could Restrict Showering of Freshmen

By Brian Loux


Burton-Conner’s house government may ban the long standing tradition of “showering” freshmen, a ritual involving the throwing of fully clothed freshmen into the shower on the night before their first 8.01 exam.

Burton-Conner Housemaster Halston Taylor cited extensive water damage and physical injury as the primary reasons for the adoption of a new policy. “Last year there was extensive water damage done to the house. We were measuring hundreds of gallons spilt across the floors,” Taylor said.

Much of the damage came not from showering, but from rivering, which involves bringing water to those freshmen who do not wish to enter the showers. “I feel the policy will help the entire BC community to make this a better place by respecting the house and their fellow classmates,” Taylor said.

Other supporters of the policy say that showering falls very close to being illegal under the Massachusetts Hazing Law, which defines hazing as any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.

The policy drawn up by Taylor states that there can no be no more than four people involved in the act of moving a person towards a shower, and that said person must agree to be showered. It also gives regulations regarding water fights, which also result from showering.

Under the new rules, throwing or dumping water from any container or spilling water on the floor is prohibited. Consequences are heavy, with the potential of a $500 fine for the first offense.

This policy was suggested after residents saw the results of last year’s shower week. While not adopted last year, the policy has again come before the Burton-Conner House government, who will meet this coming Thursday to decide what shall take place.

“To a certain extent, the spirit of the measure is reasonable,” said Brad Ito, a member of the Burton-Conner House government. “The problem I see is that the new measures, especially those regarding water fights, are worded such that the policy becomes stricter than intended.”

The act of showering is not limited to Burton-Conner, but is also common in Next House and many other living groups. At present, the measure is only under debate at Burton-Conner, though the measure could spread campus-wide.

A few freshmen said that they will enjoy the change. Women have said that the ritual presents an opportunity for men to try and soak women.

However, many freshmen are not in favor of the change in policy, citing that they enjoy partaking in school tradition and that the event galvanizes the fun-loving spirit of MIT students. “When everything is done, you can laugh at yourself and your soaking wet roommates,” said Sarah Bissonnette ’04.

Freshmen Michelle Machon and Rupesh Kanthan agreed, saying that as long as the person’s safety is not in jeopardy, showering is nothing harmful in itself. After a trial run of the tradition and a thorough dry-off, Machon did not rescind her comment.

Many upperclassmen see the change as a missed opportunity for having fun. “Shower night is an opportunity for everyone to break from studying,” said Victoria K. Anderson ’02. “I think it is the students’ responsibility to be sure no damage is done. Those who do vandalize the building should be held responsible for the actions.”

“I expect most of the upperclassmen will accept the policy rather than fight for its repeal,” Ito said. “I also think the upperclassmen will still shower people in the same manner as the past.”

Dean of Student Life Larry G. Benedict will have a meeting with some members of the student body on Thursday to discuss the issue.