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Eliminate freshman dorm rush, residence panel recommends

The final report of the Residence System Steering Committee (RSSC) recommends eliminating the freshman dormitory rush in 2001 and acknowledges that fraternities, sororities and independent living groups (FSILGs) must continue to play a vital role in MIT's housing system.

The report, made public last week, will be discussed in a series of community meetings before it is officially delivered to Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow on October 1. Minutes from those meetings will also be presented to the chancellor.

The committee backed away from two proposals made in its earlier report -- it no longer recommends establishing a freshman residence hall or converting Ashdown House to undergraduate housing while devoting MacGregor House to graduates.

"We acknowledge the lack of substantive attention in this report to the graduate student community," the report says. "We call on MIT to convene an appropriate body, perhaps similar to the RSSC, to establish appropriate educational outcomes for our graduate students within the residence system, and to recommend an appropriate set of policies."

The committee recommends that incoming freshmen receive information about the residence halls in June and make their choices by July 1. A floor rush would take place during orientation, when roommates and rooms would be chosen. At the end of their freshman year, those who chose to remain in residence halls would be reassigned in a lottery.

The report also suggests ground rules and a timeline for the FSILGs to begin recruitment of freshman for the following year. It notes that FSILGs are expected to continue to play an essential role in the MIT community.

"We assume that FSILG member units will use many different formats and venues throughout the freshman year to attract students to their houses," the report says. "Some may simply be great parties, and some activities may be very similar to 'rush' activities. But some may be very different from any activities currently associated with rush. We have every confidence that the residents of FSILGs will respond to this new recruiting environment with excellence and creativity."

The report describes characteristics the committee believes should be incorporated in building an excellent residence system. These include active participation of faculty, staff, alumni/ae and students within the system, including opportunities targeted to the unique needs of freshmen.

Upperclass students play a key role in pursuing this goal, the committee said. "The FSILG system has been particularly successful in providing this mentoring to its freshmen," says the report, which proposes that the FSILG model be used in the residence halls, with undergraduate residence advisors added to resident support teams headed by housemasters. "Each of these underclassmen will live among approximately 10 freshmen and will have as their primary responsibility the mentoring and coaching of the 10 freshmen in their care," the report says.

The report also suggests that some first-year programs be conducted in residence halls, such as the Navigating MIT weekly series introduced at Baker House this semester. Other possibilities include relocating freshman advising seminars in residence halls. The complete report is available at .

A version of this article appeared in the September 15, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 44, Number 5).

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