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Simmons Funds Can Still Be Used to Hire Strippers

By Marie Y. Thibault
EDITOR IN CHIEF

A proposal to repeal Simmons Hall house funding that was allocated for adult entertainment was rejected this past Sunday in a 32-40 vote. The proposal was opposed to the “Recreation Proposal” that won approval at a house meeting last spring. The Recreation Proposal asked for funds that would be used “to hire professional entertainers for residents of Simmons Hall as well as provide refreshments and sustenance to attendees.”

Simmons Residence Exploration Chair Agustya R. Mehta ’08 authored the proposal that asked for the repeal. Hiring and watching strippers is an “inherently demeaning thing whether you’re a man or a woman,” Mehta said. He said that he voted against the recreation proposal when it was first introduced last spring.

Mehta said that he also objects to the allocation of funds for hiring strippers because all house residents should be able to attend house events. According to his proposal, “there are residents of the dorm who are paying house tax and thus paying for this event who are below the age for which it is legal to participate in adult entertainment.” Anyone under the age of 18 cannot participate.

According to Simmons’ constitution, a requirement of the use of house funds is that “every house resident has an equal opportunity to benefit from the use of house funds.”

Following his proposal’s rejection last Sunday, Mehta filed a complaint with the Simmons Judicial Committee to have the funding repealed, but no decision has been returned yet.

Simmons resident Lawrence F. Bronk ’08, who authored the proposal to hire strippers said that at first the proposal was “definitely a joke,” but that it now serves as a reminder of what can happen when people don’t participate. Approval of the proposal generated a lengthy discussion on sponge-talk@mit.edu, a Simmons mailing list. He said that more people need to attend meetings and there should be more easy access to the proposals.

Simmons Hall House Chair Christopher K. Hoffman ’08 said that since registration day of this term, every proposal made is now e-mailed to all Simmons residents using the mailing list proposals@simmons.mit.edu. A proposal asking that all voting take place online was made last Sunday, he said, but was rejected by voters.

Authored primarily by Simmons residents Bronk and J. Matt Long ’08, the recreation proposal contains sexual puns that include the name of the fund “SEX-C Fund,” which stands for “Simmons Entertainment Xecutive Committee” and the chairperson of this committee, Matthew J. Caballero ’08 title of “Head.” Also, there are “one to three supporting SHAFT members,” with SHAFT standing for “Supporting-Head-Assistants-For-Transactions.” Caballero appoints the SHAFT members, Bronk said.

At first, the friends were interested in trying to hire strippers as a lounge. Simmons has a lounge system that differs from the hall setup of many of the other dorms on campus. Every Simmons resident is eligible to join a lounge or group and lounges with ten or more members are eligible to apply for house funds totaling $30 per member. Each group must reapply each term to be recognized as a lounge. Caballero, Long and Bronk have all been members of the lounge called The Commune.

Caballero said that he, Bronk, and Long decided to try to make adult entertainment a house-wide event in order to secure more funds. If the event were confined to members of The Commune, around $500 would have been available, he said.

“Personally, I believe that the proposal is inappropriate and possibly dangerous to the reputations of those who are planning the event,” Simmons Housemaster John M. Essigman wrote in an e-mail. “As Housemaster, however, I have to acknowledge the fact that less than half of the Simmons community feels the way I do.” He also stressed that all voices need to be heard in the dialogue on the issue.

Caballero, said that hiring strippers was a chance to “try something different.” Though some residents were concerned that the event would be held during Orientation 2006, that was never the plan, he said. Instead, the original idea was for the event to serve as a way to “relieve stress during finals.”

The event would be almost exclusively for Simmons residents, Bronk said, but added, “I’m sure we can work out a way for other people to attend.”

Caballero said that now that the proposal to repeal funds has been defeated, planning for the event will start up again. He said that if the event is actually held, both female and male strippers will be hired.

In light of the recent alleged rape by Duke University lacrosse players of a woman hired to dance at a party, Caballero said that at the least, some sort of security guard would be hired for the event. “We all know that this could end our college careers, so we are being extremely careful,” he said.

Still, Long said that the proposal has been more of an experiment and that “to tell you the truth, this may or may not happen.”