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ILG...s Complete Their IAP Rush

By

Gabriel Fouasnon

All five of MIT’s Independent Living Groups have finished the Independent Activities Period rush, with mixed reactions among rush chairs about the recruitment period.

The five ILG’s are Epsilon Theta, Fenway House, pika, Student House, and the Women’s Independent Living Group. Each house was free to pick its own dates and duration for rush. For example, WILG rushed for almost two weeks (Feb. 6-19), whereas pika rushed for four days (from Jan. 26–29).

Ken T. Takusagawa G, the rush chair for Fenway House, said that two of their bids were accepted. pika Rush Chair Margaret E. Avener ’07 said they came up empty, and Rush Chair Jennifer H. Olejarczyk ’06, said that two pledges joined Student House over IAP. As of last week, Kristina N. Chidozie ’08, rush chair of WILG, had received three pledges, all of which were freshmen. These pledges were the first freshmen to join WILG this year. Lisa M. Morin ’09, rush co-chair for Epsilon Theta, did not comment on how many pledges they received.

Morin said that “This was definitely the best IAP rush we’ve had in years.” Epsilon Theta so far has 20 residents out of a total capacity of 36. “It’s been a wonderful year.” “We’ve had time to adjust to freshman on campus,” she said, referring to an MIT policy that requires all students to live on campus during their freshman year.

Takusagawa, who was less optimistic, said Fenway House is operating at approximately half-capacity and hasn’t seen any changes in that statistic for the last two years. “Our house is not especially doing that well,” said Takusagawa. He said IAP rush was disappointing, because Fenway was “putting in a lot publicity but getting a low return,” as only ten students visited the house during IAP rush. Last year, only one person showed up at the scheduled rush events.

Takusagawa claimed that the problem was two-fold: students are “too hosed” and it is all too easy under the MIT housing system for students to ignore alternative housing options, since they are not forced to move.

Student House gained two new members this year, compared to ten last year. The house has a current total of 21 occupants out of a capacity of 28 to 30. Though “the budget for Student House looks okay,” the house needs to have 23 to 25 occupants, Olejarczyk said.

“We’ve had 32 people living in the house this year, which is full capacity,” Avener said about pika. “At this point we’re fairly confident that we are financially sustainable.”

Chidozie said that she was happy with the numbers for WILG’s fall rush.

Rush chairs employ varied strategies

To attract more students, Fenway House has looked into other ways to recruit. Takusagawa said that one of Fenway’s most successful ways of recruiting has been on http://www.craigslist.com/, an online classifieds Web site, where students go to look for cheaper housing. Takusagawa said that some of Fenway’s residents were students who had gone abroad or taken a year off and no longer wanted to live in a dormitory.

Because of its close proximity to artistic centers in Boston, such as Berklee College and the Museum of Fine Arts, Takusagawa said Fenway House presents “lots of opportunities for students in arts,” and that it would use this angle for future promotion. They have already begun to hold weekly arts group meetings, he said.

In the past, Epsilon Theta’s prospective members had two years to accept their bids. This year, bids expired after one week. Morin said the house as a whole put in more effort in planning rush this year. They chose as the background for all their postings and advertisements across campus a vivid, signature cheddar cheese yellow to create high visibility (patterned after the fact that they live in a yellow mansion and “have a certain fondness for ducks,” as their web site states). She said that a big focus for Epsilon Theta has been to emphasize the notion of the living group as a home. “When people pledge, we say, ‘Welcome home.’”

In contrast to Epsilon Theta, pika has gradually become less focused on a fixed rush and a quick acceptance of bids. Avener said it was easier for pika to rush this year because the house was full and members had had time to adapt to the freshmen on campus policy. Before freshmen on campus, prospective pikans pledged immediately after rush, and then moved in. Since the policy took effect, many freshmen interested in moving into pika their sophomore year have not pledged immediately after rush. Avener said that members of pika had to learn to get less discouraged if a freshman who displayed interest in joining the house did not pledge right away.

In an effort to attract more students to Student House, Olejarczyk said, “We’re trying to hold more events this year … We have a weekly game night event … We want to hold more events on campus and at Student House this year.”