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Fall Planning Shifts Away from Housing

‘Welcoming to the Academy’ is New Focus

By Keith J. Winstein

NEWS AND FEATURES DIRECTOR

The focus of Orientation planning will shift further away from residence selection, following Monday’s final meeting of the Residence System Implementation Team.

A new committee, chaired by Dean for Undergraduate Research J. Kim Vandiver PhD ’75, will now examine “how best to welcome these new members of the community to the Academy,” said Robert P. Redwine, the dean for undergraduate education, who is appointing the committee.

“Now that Rush is not a significant part at all of Orientation,” Vandiver said, “we can focus the programming in Orientation on things that will add value to the academic experience of the students when they first get here.”

“We would like to do a much better job welcoming students to the Academy,” he said, echoing Redwine’s words almost exactly. “That’s really the principal notion behind this. Imagine activities involving more faculty.”

The committee will look into “anything that will make it possible for students to connect sooner and better to faculty and ... people who can show them what the intellectual experience is all about,” he said.

The membership and charge to the committee have yet to be established, Vandiver said. “We will have significant student membership,” he added. “I’m presently working with student leaders to choose student members.”

The shift in planning follows a gradual shift in emphasis over the last 20 years, as the first days for freshmen have gone from “Rush” to “Residence/Orientation,” and in 1997 briefly to “O/R” and then “Orientation.”

It was another committee chaired by Vandiver, the Orientation/Residence Fall ’98 Committee, that was responsible for the latter two name changes.

RSIT report sanguine as expected

The RSIT’s final report, which closely mirrored a draft reported in The Tech this week, made no recommendations for changes in the residence system, and as expected was generally sanguine on the new system, sparked by the 1997 death of freshman Scott S. Krueger at a fraternity event.

“Those involved ... generally agree that the overall framework designed for 2002 is generally effective,” the RSIT said in an executive summary.

“It really was a very successful transition,” Redwine said, adding that dramatic changes in residence selection for next year were very unlikely.

“Clearly there remains some lack of unanimity on certain aspects of how to go forward,” he said, but “we probably are not far away now from where we need to be. I think this system of having dorm squatting has worked out on the whole very well.”

“The great majority of first-year students got their first or second choice,” he said. “There were relatively few who chose to enter the adjustment lottery [the post-Orientation dormitory selection process, previously mandatory for freshmen], which is an indication that they were somewhat satisfied where they ended up with.”

Expanded dormitory rush unlikely

In November, the Dormitory Council circulated a petition for residence selection to be “brought back as an uninterrupted multiday event.”

The petition received about 500 student signatures, said Grace R. Kessenich ’03, the DormCon president and a member of the RSIT, but was never presented at an RSIT meeting.

“We, being hosed students, dropped the ball on that,” Kessenich said. She added that DormCon might present the petition along with a proposed schedule for Orientation, which the group intends to submit within a week.

Redwine said that a change in the length of rush was unlikely for next year. “I am aware that there are some members of our community ... who would like to see an expanded dorm rush, but I don’t think we’re going there,” he said.

“The bulk of the evidence indicates that we’ve done a pretty good job setting up a system that works,” he said.