The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 48.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Orientation to Include Sexual Violence, Diversity Programs

By Christen M. Gray


Orientation 2001 will feature two new programs, a diversity program and a rape awareness presentation and discussion.

The diversity program is co-sponsored by the Campus Committee on Race Relations and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. The rape awareness program will feature a speech by Katie Koestner, followed by small discussion groups.

ATO President Eric M. Glover ’02 said his fraternity will play a “very active role in the planning and follow through [of the diversity program].” He intends for the program to address directly the issues of prejudice and discrimination so that students are aware of the ramifications of their actions.

In April, several ATO members shouted racial remarks at a female singer traveling with the band The Roots, sparking an altercation on ATO’s roofdeck. The forum to be organized by ATO is part of the sanctions imposed by the Interfraternity Council after the incident. ATO will also go before the Cambridge License Commission later this month on charges related to the altercation.

IFC President Rory P. Pheiffer ’02 said ATO should not be visibly involved with any programs before August 30, to avoid any advantages or disadvantages to the fraternity during rush.

Program features rape victim

The speaker for the rape awareness program, Katie Koestner, was a victim of date rape during her first year of college at William and Mary. She went on to found Campus Outreach Services, an organization that promotes sexual violence awareness on middle school, high school, and college campuses. Today, she speaks frequently about her experience and leads discussions about rape and sexual violence.

A coalition of student groups and individuals, including Stop our Silence and the Social Justice Cooperative, have been working for the past two years to have this new program included in the orientation schedule.

Jennifer A. Erwin ’02 and Radha K. Iyengar ’02, who were active in the movement for a rape awareness program, were surprised but pleased with the administrators’ choice of speakers. They had received little communication about the Institute’s plans before Koestner was confirmed.

Dean of Academic Resources and Programming Julie B. Norman said the administration was looking for new Orientation programs and the coalition’s “timing was just right.” The 600 signatures gathered in support of the program were not needed, she said.

Pheiffer predicts successful rush

Pheiffer expects a slightly more successful rush than usual this year. The number of students who pledge “will be similar to that of two years ago, when FSILGs were anticipating [what used to be the] 2001 decision,” Pheiffer said. When the deadline to house all freshmen on campus was pushed back to 2002, fraternities, sororities and independent living groups felt less pressure for a stellar rush, so they didn’t work as hard, he added.

Pheiffer said that he thinks people will tend to run rush very carefully this year to avoid accruing penalties for the 2002 rush.

Residence-based advising expands

Residence-based advising will be implemented in German House, as well as among half of the incoming freshmen in Next House, this year. Many wonder how the larger student base and the involvement of males in this program will affect rush.

“This is our first opportunity to observe males [involved with RBA],” Norman said. However, she expects a “non-significant impact on the fraternities.”

Pheiffer said the IFC plans to have a meeting with RBA participants to make them aware of the different options available to them. Deciding to take part in RBA is not binding this year, allowing RBA participants the option of participating in rush and pledging an FSILG.

Administrators hope that during the festivities of rush, the residences participating in RBA will conduct their own special activities, like tours of Boston or get-to-know-you events with the upperclassmen.