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Two Days Reserved For ‘REX’

By Keith J. Winstein


A new name and a new schedule for dormitory rush will greet the Class of 2007.

Yesterday, an administration statement, issued in response to Dormitory Council and ILTFP requests to increase the amount of time set aside for freshman dormitory selection, discussed the new “residence exploration” plan for Orientation 2003.

But some confusion remained over how much time during Orientation will be reserved for dormitory rush, which MIT is now calling REX, for “Residence Exploration and Selection.”

Meanwhile, another new name -- the Undergraduate Association Senate, known until this week as the “Council” -- voted to again postpone a decision on whether to endorse the Dormitory Council’s proposed Orientation-week schedule, after the Interfraternity Council voted almost unanimously to oppose it.

The proposal has been endorsed by the UA’s Committee on Housing and Orientation, supported by ILTFP, and praised by Deans Robert P. Redwine and Larry G. Benedict as having “really led to a breakthrough in our discussions and planning.”

Benedict describes two-day ‘REX’

In an interview, Benedict discussed the amount of time to be reserved for dormitory selection, something the Dormitory Council and ILTFP have strenuously tried to lengthen.

Sunday, Aug. 24, 2003 and Monday, Aug. 25, 2003 will each be reserved for “residence exploration” from 3 p.m. (on Sunday) and 3:30 p.m. (on Monday) through the evening, Benedict said.

The Dormcon proposal requested that time be reserved from 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, respectively, in addition to a four-hour block of time on Tuesday.

There will be “at least two hours on Tuesday,” Benedict said.

During the time reserved, “there would be no other scheduled events so it can be devoted to residence exploration,” Benedict said.

The time reserved on Monday “doesn’t conflict with anybody’s programs” except seminars from “learning communities” such as ESG and Concourse, which run until 5 p.m., he said.

The final orientation schedule will be decided by Julie B. Norman, the associate dean for academic resources and programming, and Assistant Dean Elizabeth C. Young, Benedict said.

Norman said she was not sure that Monday would be reserved for residence exploration from 3:30 p.m. on. “I will protect Monday evening, certainly,” she said. “What time exploration will start on Monday, I don’t know yet.”

Confusion leads to criticism

Some student leaders expressed dissatisfaction with Benedict’s and Redwine’s statements, which Benedict characterized as a final decision.

“We definitely appreciate the fact that Benedict is attempting to accommodate the Dormcon schedule,” said Grace E. Kenney ’05 of ILTFP. But the statement “essentially assumes that Rush [and] Orientation 2002 was efficient and highly successful, and that’s an assumption that we contest.”

While similarly praising Benedict, Ross E. Benson ’03 of Dormcon questioned whether the residence selection time Benedict discussed for Monday, Aug. 25, would really happen in light of Norman’s uncertainty on the subject.

“Students don’t feel that it’s as concrete as Larry [Benedict] makes it out to be,” Benson said. “If it were concrete, students would be happy.”

“They did do a better job listening,” Benson said, “but I don’t think anything’s going to come of it.”

“There was no fundamental change in terms of the administration’s view of how important dorm rush is during orientation,” he said.

On Dormcon’s proposal for “active squatting” -- that freshmen be required to enter the post-orientation housing lottery, even if only to indicate that they wish to stay where they were assigned over the summer, or “squat,” Benson said he was unimpressed with Benedict and Redwine’s statement that “all freshmen will be encouraged to ‘actively’ reconfirm the hall they were assigned during the summer, or to enter the lottery for a new building assignment.”

“We want it to be like in all other years,” Benson said, “where if you didn’t fill out the form, you ... basically got put in the dorm that had a spot for you.”

Benedict said that regardless of whether freshmen were penalized -- by being moved to a random dorm -- in the past, he would not allow such a system in the future. “I do not believe it appropriate for the administration to be punishing the freshmen on the very first decision they will make at MIT,” he said. “Doesn’t sound very MIT-like to me.”

‘It is not negotiating,’ dean says

Benedict emphatically shot down some ILTFP mailing list suggestions that he had adopted only a “negotiating position.”

“It is not negotiating,” he said.

“I will be extremely disappointed if they try to come back to negotiate further points,” he said. “This is a very fair compromise on all parts.”

But Kenney said ILTFP would continue to fight. “We think it our duty essentially that we continue to come back and attempt to negotiate,” Kenney said.

Benedict said students should work instead on helping to plan orientation, instead of fighting time allocation decisions already made.

“By and large, we’ve worked with a very positive process over the last few weeks,” Benedict said. “Let’s roll our sleeves up and let’s start planning what this is going to look like. I’m hoping we’re all going to work together on this.”

UA again postpones vote

The Undergraduate Association Senate met last night and voted to postpone a decision on whether to endorse the Dormcon proposal. The meeting followed another postponement, on Monday. The UA’s Committee on Housing and Orientation has already endorsed the proposal.

The UA has twice postponed the vote as a result of uncertainty, and later opposition, from fraternities. On Wednesday, the fraternity presidents met and voted nearly unanimously to oppose the proposal.

“We didn’t really have any input into the schedule,” said Lawrence W. Colagiovanni ’05, the IFC president. Highlighting the fraternity experience in planning rush, Colagiovanni said “we think we can share that with the people writing the proposal.”

Also, there are outstanding questions about “how our rush is going to piggyback on their [dormitory] rush,” he said. “Once [freshmen finish] dorm rush, are they really going to want to rock and roll with an IFC rush?”

Colagiovanni called for the dormitories, sororities, fraternities, and independent living group leaders to come together to draft a unified proposal.

“We really need to sit down as a community and iron out these details,” he said. “I’d like to see the student body say: Here’s what we want.”