[salon] Salon Discussion, December 5 - Transience Divine
[salon] Salon Discussion, December 5|
I would question why anyone believes that MIT has a 'responsibility' towards anyone. There is, of course, some amount of contractual/legal obligation to not kill or seriously maim people, but beyond that, I just see MIT as an organization which is going to act as much as possible in its own perceived self-interest.
I see no questions here of what responsibilities the students have towards the institution--but after all, if folks from Fifth East can complain that the 'Tute ought to specifically structure events (despite the wishes of the people paying for students to attend rush,) to serve their interests, then why shouldn't the adminis complain that students should alter their lives and do things specifically to make the admins happy? If they have a responsibility to us, then don't we have a responsibility to them? I am sure there are several requests the admins could make from us--such as getting rid of the black walls, eliminating much of the drug use, and generally doing our best to look as much like Harvard as possible.
Of course, I have a sort of ambivalent position towards rush. Despite attending the last real rush, I ended up in a dorm I hated with housemates whom I found filthy and disgusting. I ended up living at Harvard for the majority of my student career--the only exception being the summer when I became an RA at Random because I didn't really have other choicese, and the year my fiance and I spent in grad student family housing. Needless to say, I didn't chose grad housing based on the people--I picked it because I could live comfortably with my fiance, have my own sink and bathroom, and it was well-situated.
A good, well-situated dorm makes for a pleasant life and provides ample space for friends to gather--at Harvard many of my friends were scattered in dorms far and wide, yet we still managed to hang out and have a good time. In fact, my social life at Harvard has always been stronger than my social life at MIT, despite getting to 'rush' my dorm. So I remain unconvinced that Rush is actually superior to other systems of dorm chosing.
In sum, I think that talking about this in terms of 'responsibility' simply doesn't get at the matter at all, because I don't think MIT has a 'responsibility' to keep Fifth East weird any more than Fifth east has a responsibility to make themselves more Harvard-like for the sake of perspective parents. MIT's biggest 'responsibility' (beyond making sure no one dies) is simply its own continuation--and MIT will continue no matter what housing system it has.
|Date:||December 19th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)|| |
I think I understand your position, but I've always thought you fall into the group of who are mostly outside of the changes. The communities that you care about aren't so strongly affected, and the existence of the communities that were affected didn't affect you.
I don't think that there's a very well-defined "self-interest" for an organization like MIT the way there is for a corporation. And corporations are so often failing to act in their own self-interest that it seems silly use that as an explanation for anything.
I don't think that rush is the best system-- and there are plenty of other ways to find a group of friends. But it is the way that most of the greatest communities at MIT are formed.
I think you're right that for MIT to have a responsibility to us, we should consider what responsibilities we have to it. But I think that many of us pursue our greatest responsibility to MIT-- that is, of making of ourselves dynamic, competent, and grounded people who will effect the world-- through and with the help of these communities. We might have done it another way, if they hadn't been there, but of the other clear options I've encountered, I would choose none over it.
Corporations act in the self-interests of the people making the decisions--namely the CEOs. Notice how well CEO pay has done in the past few decades, despite (or perhaps causing) economic performance.
I definitely do *not* fall outside of these sorts of changes, though. The entire reason why I ended up living at Harvard and having almost no social life at MIT was that my Freshman dorm sucked ass. (Not to mention that the walk to Harvard and the walk to Russian House weren't all that different.) I do understand the importance of good living communities/environments at MIT--I just don't see Rush as a particularly more effective method, overall, of achieving this than, say, having each dorm write up a little blurb about itself and sending these to the frosh. "Hi', we're Russian House, we all speak Russian and social life revolves around communal dinners which we cook for each other," would have told me just as much as Rush did (and then I wouldn't have been hit by a Rush bill a couple of months later.)
Random was at least a nice place to visit, even if I never fully felt like a part of the community.
But it is the way that most of the greatest communities at MIT are formed. That's because it currently is the primary way communities are formed.
I must say that I find your last paragraph somewhat silly, given that my own experiences with Rush lead me to believe that the entire process was quite irrelevant to my becoming a 'dynamic, competent, and grounded' person who will affect the world (well, whether I do or not, Rush just doesn't enter into it.) The groups one lives with (or choses to associate with,) can affect such things, but I think you put far too much weight and importance on what is, ultimately, one selection process out of many.
CPW is a great time for students to visit different dorms and get to know their inhabitants. By the end of CPW, I knew I was living in either Random or 'that dorm with the black walls and the dragons.' I was even temped in EC.