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Wasted Opportunities

It is clear that next year’s orientation will be integral in defining the future of our residence system. Many important questions have arisen the past month about how it will be defined and who will define it. Will students have any input into this decision? If the focus is not residence selection, then what is it? Why weren’t these questions asked sooner?

The Dormitory Council has taken the Residence System Implementation Team’s refusal to make any recommendations as an opportunity to offer its input. They have proposed a schedule that could serve as a good starting point for planning an orientation and rush that will satisfy students and administrators. However, if the students wish to see their input considered in this process, they must be more responsible and more organized. The first petition Dormcon circled on this subject was never presented to anyone, and the second petition failed to make any concrete requests.

Students greeted the administration’s announcement, declaring the new focus of orientation to be “welcoming students to the Academy”, with confusion. Aside from Rush, past orientations have been little more than a hodgepodge of rape awareness presentations, trust-building activities, and meetings with advisors. Focusing on introducing new students to academic life would be an improvement, but the administration’s new plan seems to lack a commitment to truly make MIT part of the “Academy” that Plato envisioned. If the administration is really concerned about academic life at MIT, it would be well served to look beyond orientation. Worrying about industry-faculty conflicts of interest and cracking down on cheating would do more toward this purpose than adding more professor-student dinners to orientation.

The problem is that it is now February and next year’s orientation schedule should be decided by March. MIT certainly had an opportunity to radically improve orientation. With planning, they could have given orientation a new focus and at the same time improved the residence selection process. As a result of this delay the still unformed and unnamed committee planning this year’s orientation week will have little opportunity to effect any significant changes. Instead of an opportunity to improve orientation and residence selection MIT is throwing around a new buzzword, students feel once more left out of the decision process, and we have just one month left to do something about it.

Keith J. Winstein has recused himself from this editorial.