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COLUMN

Almost Paradise

Akshay Patil

Dear Class of 2005,

Well, you should all have relatively big heads by now. Just a few months ago, you were sitting in front of a multitude of parents and well-wishers while an authoritative figure who had dominated your life for the last 4 years told you just how wonderful you were.

You might have been told that you were the most outstanding class your high school ever had. There might have been a lengthy list of accomplishments that you and your peers achieved. Perhaps during that heady final week of school you received special attention for being at the top of your class or for other amazing achievements. Many probably congratulated you on your acceptance to MIT, and some have probably looked at you with a face of utter confusion and said “MIT? Where’s that? Detroit?”

Upon arriving here, you never have to pay for your meals... will wonders ever cease?! Everyone vies for your attention and your time. There’s probably a corner in your temp closet dedicated to stashing all of the free t-shirts, sports bottles, yo-yos and other assorted items you’ve collected by now. If you don’t know by now, most living groups are spending more on your rush than they have spent on any past rush. Welcome to the best MIT freshman rush that money can buy.

What makes you, you mass of 1,000 clueless freshmen, so worthy of what might be the largest rush bash in MIT history? Well, it’s the fact that you may very well be the last.

Starting next year, there will no longer be a rush, at least not the rush we know and love now. Since all freshmen will be required to live on campus, dorm rush will be changed to a dorm “recruitment” (the word “rush” has lots of yucky negative connotations), and FSILG rush will be eliminated all together.

Some of the changes honestly do make sense. Freshmen will have a longer period of time in which to shop and choose where they want to spend their four years. Instead of making a decision in less than 2 weeks, freshmen will have more time to test drive the FSILG housing options.

But in exchange for this extended shopping time, we are sacrificing what is arguably the most enjoyable and memorable experience people have at MIT. New people, no classes, free food, fun games, boring orientation lectures -- this is the time when you really feel alive. Most of you probably don’t even know what IHTFP means. I’d tell you, but you will find out eventually and this is a school newspaper.

Orientation will still exist, and yes, as I mentioned, there will still be a dorm shopping “recruitment” period, but that isn’t the same. Dorms have less money to spend on recruiting freshmen, and you have to pick one eventually, anyways. Instead of 50 choices, freshmen will have 10.

The lack of a rush will also hurt the FSILG community. Fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups are an integral part of your experience at MIT and depend heavily on rush to entice freshmen to come and explore something new beyond the usual campus fare. Whether or not you chose to join one, they will undoubtedly have a major impact on your social life. Fraternities are the ones who spend the most during rush, often providing the most memorable experiences, and they’re the ones who throw the parties during the year. Most MIT-related non-academic events are largely organized by FSILGs. On a campus starved for a life outside of academia, the fraternity, sorority, and independent living groups are essential.

I cannot deny that the new system will have many benefits, but it robs the MIT community of a piece of its soul. Despite its intentions to improve non-academic life at MIT, the elimination of rush may have detrimental effects that will hurt the MIT experience as a whole.

Rush is the reason why I came back to MIT early and spend the afternoons on my roommate’s computer cranking out stuff for you to read while I contemplate trying to find something to eat outside my newly-moved-into foodless room. It’s a worthy cause. So as you rush around these next few days, heads spinning, stomachs filling, egos inflating, hormones raging, and free-stuff grabbing, realize that you’re having the time of your life, and join all of us in hoping that it all won’t end with you.