Making Orientation Better … for Less!

The Orientation planning committee will soon be evaluating options for making Orientation cheaper as MIT contends with an Institute-wide budget crunch. Some measures have been suggested that have potential to significantly detract from the freshman Orientation experience — including cutting the length of Orientation in half. We instead propose a couple of simple tweaks to the existing schedule that will both save the Institute money and improve the Orientation experience for students and the campus community.

Moving the Activities Midway back to Tuesday (replacing the Tuesday Night Event) and moving the Greek Griller to late afternoon on Friday will help student groups more effectively recruit, provide FSILGs with an extra half day before classes begin to attract freshmen, and free the MIT administration from having to fund two class-wide events.

The shift in the Midway date will remove a number of obstacles to effective recruitment by student groups. These barriers are more a result of historical accident than intentional design. The Association of Student Activities prohibits student groups from recruiting prior to the Activities Midway, yet this restriction was drawn up back when the Midway was on Tuesday, and it was unintentionally preserved when the Midway moved to Friday. This rule hamstrings student groups at their most critical task for survival — recruiting new students. The window between the end of dormitory exploration (REX) on Tuesday afternoon and the beginning of FSILG rush on Saturday is a unique time during which student groups can attract freshmen’s attention without needing to worry about competition from better-funded living groups. Unfortunately, the current arrangement closes off all but the last evening of that window, reducing the time groups have to recruit both new freshmen — and graduate students — before classes start.

The Tuesday Night Event — a night of games and activities organized by a select number of student groups — has helped a bit to counteract this problem by giving those groups a chance to show off for freshmen earlier in Orientation. However, the event has served only as a stopgap measure since participating student groups are still prohibited from formal recruitment. By completely replacing the Tuesday Night Event with the Activities Midway, the problems with the student group recruiting schedule can be fixed simply without the need for changes to the ASA recruitment regulations. Groups would no longer have to awkwardly juggle restrictions at a recruiting-event-in-all-but-name, instead being freed to take full advantage of the lull between dormitory exploration and FSILG rush.

To fill the vacated Friday time, the Greek Griller should be moved from Saturday at noon to late afternoon on Friday, providing yet another opportunity for MIT to further reduce its Orientation budget, while giving freshmen an extra half day to explore FSILGs before classes begin. By allowing rush to begin late Friday afternoon, MIT could offload the task of entertaining freshmen on Friday evening to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups which should be eager and well-equipped to fulfill the task.

The Friday Night Event has, of late, served as simply another large class-wide party and has become one of the most expensive events on the Orientation schedule. Though some in the community may be reluctant to part with this event because of its perceived value in building class unity and in helping to keep the freshmen busy on their first Friday night on campus, we have faith in the FSILG community’s dry rush policies and their ability to provide a quality bonding experience for the incoming class.

We therefore call upon the ASA, the Student Activities Office, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association, the Living Group Council, and the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming to adopt these changes and finally iron out the kinks in MIT’s Orientation schedule.