Back in Massachusetts! And Rush stuff is starting! *excited* There’s building in the courtyard. I’ll take pictures as soon as I replace the batteries in my camera.
Rush – REX officially – is seriously one of the best times of the year. This will, of course, be my third – I’ve had one from the freshman point of view and one from the upperclassman point of view. I want to see it work the way it’s supposed to, so, if you’re an incoming frosh, remember, take it seriously and go look at places! I don’t care how much you like your temp assignment. I’m sure Mollie, who’s a former Rush chair for MacGregor, agrees with me.
One question I hear versions of a lot from new frosh, is “I love my temp living group and am intending to stay there. What value is there for me in looking at different living groups?”
Well, first of all, that’s not exactly fair to FSILGs, as you don’t get temped in them, but that comes later. Plus, most frosh who are interested in FSILGs don’t have a hard time understanding why they should look around.
From a dorm perspective, it’s all very well that you’ve found something you like so quickly, and maybe it is the best place for you, but it’s important to make an informed decision about it. An informed decision is not watching all the i3 videos, an informed decision is actually interacting with the people and culture of the places in real life and real time. And once you have a permanent living group, an informed decision will allow you to make a stronger contribution to it. Let me try an analogy I used recently with a friend. I’m still not sure if it works but he seemed to appreciate it.
Politically speaking, I’m pretty liberal. However, I come from a pretty conservative region of the country (the South). Because I was surrounded by conservatives, I couldn’t just take liberal views for granted. I had to learn about both sides, understand the conservative arguments, and actively decide to reject them. “Actively”, as opposed to “passively”, is the key word there. I had to build my own beliefs and justifications based on what I’d learned. And I think this made them stronger.
By contrast, I occasionally come across people who have never lived anywhere but liberal areas, and who don’t expose themselves to serious conservative arguments (through, say, reading material). In fact, they try to avoid seeking these out because they “know” which side is right and don’t feel the need to justify it. They’ve derived their arguments almost entirely from those of the liberals surrounding them. The result is people who argue primarily in cliches and soundbites. You’ve seen them, or if you live in a conservative area you’ve seen their conservative equivalent. Their views are stagnant, and they don’t truly contribute to their own school of thought, they just repeat a diluted version of what was handed to them.
(Note: I’m not saying this is true of all or most liberals in liberal areas, just that it’s easier to fall into this trap in such conditions)
Now let’s apply this to living group selection, and living group culture. If you don’t look around at different dorms and halls, you may like what you have, but you’ve gotten there in a passive way, by taking what was given to you instead of understanding your options and actively rejecting the other ones. So you don’t really know what’s special about your own place, you don’t have any valid images with which to contrast it, and you have an incomplete and cliched understanding of your own culture. And when you try to contribute toward it with this deficient understanding, and with knowledge that was handed to you instead of that which you found for yourself, your living group will become more diluted, unoriginal, cliched. Your culture becomes wankery rather than culture.
I think the vast majority of MIT students are smart enough not to fall for the “politics” part of this analogy. And most MIT students understand the importance of active understanding, the search for knowledge, discovery. So why wouldn’t you apply that to the place where you live?
Oh yeah, and regardless of where you’re temped, you should come by and ride our homemade roller coaster, and all the other Fun Courtyard Things that I hear being built outside. It’ll be great!