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COLUMN

Why We Fight For Dorm Rush

David Lepzelter

In my years at MIT, I have heard a truly frightening number of people say that they would have killed themselves if they had not found a place where they belonged at the beginning of freshman year. This is why, even with my mind dwelling on the possibility of war, I can not abandon the cause of Rush.

Recently, several high-level administrators have made statements that residence selection is no longer an important part of Orientation, and that disturbs me. If they believe that Dorm Rush's purpose is served by I3 videos, pamphlets, and Web sites, they are badly mistaken; these can never substitute for real interactions with the residents of dorms, especially when all of their content has to be controlled to keep out parts that overprotective parents would send complaints about. Nothing can be an adequate substitute for real, honest conversation, and that can only happen once the frosh arrive on campus.

Nothing could replace the amount of friendship between upperclassmen and frosh during Dorm Rush, either. Other colleges have to pay upperclassmen to interact with freshmen, and show them the ropes; at MIT, we have people of all kinds who want to spend their own money, through their house taxes, to feed and entertain the freshmen. Dorm Rush is not a gigantic kegger, as some administrators seem to think; it is a giant event where upperclassmen and freshmen meet each other. I have seen friendships between freshmen and upperclassmen that would never have been made without Dorm Rush. These friendships have helped freshmen with everything from knowing that the first 8.01 test is not the end of the world to finding a way through the bureaucracy of MIT Medical. If any administrators think that Dorm Rush is not important, we need to let them know that it is.

There is another possibility, one that I fear even more. It is possible that these administrators think that MIT’s dorm communities are unimportant, or worse yet should be broken apart in the name of “diversity.” Real diversity, though, is not the token black person and Latino with a few Asians living on every hall with a group of whites. It is being able to walk into French House and hear French in use in everyday conversation; it is a white person walking onto a floor and seeing that everyone else is black, and finding out for himself what being a minority is like. It is diversity in more than just the racial sense, too: the ability to go up or down a floor at East Campus and find a completely different way of thinking, or to go from MacGregor to Senior House and find out how similar and different people can be at the same time. Real diversity is what we have.

Our dorm system is the dream of other colleges. We have interesting people in interesting dorms, not bland buildings with bland randomized combinations of people. It makes MIT even more famous than it would be otherwise; for instance, my high school physics textbook mentions East Campus. It gives us an edge over places where freshmen and upperclassmen ignore each other, and places where people never meet anyone other than their roommates and a couple of random people down the hall.

MIT is unique. We should be proud of what makes us different; it is certainly the main thing that convinced me to come here, instead of other places that offered better financial aid and an education on the same level as MIT. When what makes us different is taken away from us, we must join together, even if the people responsible are well-intentioned. It is time to speak, with one voice, a very simple word:

No.

David Lepzelter ’04 is a member of ILTFP.