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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

REX Now An Option for RBA Freshmen by Jess K. '10

Next House's freshmen, starting with the class of 2012, can now participate in REX. !!!!!!!!

As you may know, I lived in Next House as a freshman, and while it was a great community where I still hang out and pset at frequently, Next made me particularly unhappy because it comes with a side of Residence-Based Advising (RBA). RBA is a lot like ordering a Big Mac and getting to the drive-in window where the lady says, “Here’s your Big Mac, and also, a side of lard.”

You say, “I saw that there were all these other appetizing choices on the menu, like french fries, or apple pie.. can I have a look at those?” She says, “No.”

“Oh, and also, you have to eat the lard for the next year.”

Alright, so it wasn’t actually like eating lard (not that I know what that’s like.. ahem), but RBA currently means that you have to live in that dormitory for the year (unlike freshmen in other dorms, who get a period called Residence Exploration (REX), and can move wherever and whenever they choose), since the program is based on the idea of having students with the same advisor live together. In practice, though, the idea doesn’t pan out so well since everyone moves within the dorm so they can be closer to the friends they’ve already decided to live with, and so there’s ultimately no point to keeping people in Next House. And the MIT housing system in other dorms works so well – freshmen are temporarily placed in a dorm, then given the choice to relottery into a dorm where they feel more comfortable – that it seems both unfair and illogical to keep a few freshmen out of the rest of the system.

In my personal experience, I loved the people there but hated the idea, and so I raised enough of a fuss about it that I was one of the lucky few able to move out. I also wrote to the housing office about my feelings on the subject, met with the RBA coordinator to discuss my experiences, as well as wrote a blog entry last spring and an article this fall in our newspaper, The Tech. Other students wrote similar articles on the subject, including one of my favorites by the Undergraduate Association (UA)’s former vice president Ruth Miller (who also knows all the words to REM’s “It’s The End of the World As We Know It”, for serious).

Meanwhile, the Next House government was working tirelessly with the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming (UAAP), as well as the housing office, to give our future freshmen the choice to move out of their living group. And so today, I almost exploded with joy reading this short announcement in the Tech:

Freshmen placed in Next House will be allowed to participate in the Housing Adjustment Lottery beginning next fall, according to Next house President Franklyn F. Lao ’08. Next residents were previously not allowed to participate in REX due to the Residence-Based Advising Program. Minor changes will been made to the lottery schedule to accommodate this change.

Later, one of my former dormmates forwarded me this email, sent to all residents of Next House:

“Hello All,

I am happy to announce tonight a long process of talks with the UAAP and reviews to the RBA program at Next have culminated in a big change at Next.

Short history: 9 months ago I started to talk regularly with the UAAP asking for the change on behalf of all the residents at Next. This semester Muriel added her full support after observing the RBA program at Next.

And after a lot of work from the offices of housing and UAAP, starting next year’s Next House freshman will be allowed to enter the REX housing readjustment lottery!!! Hooray!!!

More details will come I promise. But feel free to spread the good news!

Franklyn Lau
Next House President”

To quote Ruth Miller, who responded in a way that, as usual, sums up my feelings about this better than I ever could: “I love everything.”

This makes me so ecstatic because it’s something I’ve felt very strongly about ever since I came to MIT, and it’s amazing to see that the students were able to make their voices heard. Not only for the ’12 freshmen, but also with the current students, since I feel that this change could make a huge difference in the opinion of Next House – which, like I said, I love dearly, just not some of the ideas behind it. We write time and time again in the blogs about how important your living group is to your MIT experience, and it’s absolutely true – today I’m infinitely happier in Burton 1, though I never would’ve found where I belonged if I hadn’t been given the choice to move out.

So there you have it: MIT students, making a difference. Working towards the future so you don’t have to eat lard anymore. (Of course, if you like lard, it’s still there. It’s just a matter of preference.)

(MIT, MIT Admissions, and myself are in no way condoning the eating of lard.)

21 responses to “REX Now An Option for RBA Freshmen”

  1. Duane says:

    nice, that’s good to hear!

    now, if i could just get in…

  2. Alex says:

    “Yes, here is your tub of lard sir, enjoy.”
    That what I want to hear when I get a big Mac, or pick a place to live….

    But while one the subject, one must wonder: Does Lard taste bad?

  3. milena '11 says:

    I read it too!!! I was really happy about it, if they allow people that actually want to live there to move in, then a culture will form and eventually people will be more attracted to the place. Also, their rooms are not that bad. There’s a lot of decently-sized singles! Yay for the housing people.

  4. Anonymous says:

    She knows all the words? Now that is impressive.

  5. Harrison says:

    Er hold up what about frosh temped in McCormick and the cultural houses? Do they not get to participate in REX next year? It’d be a shame to make this huge leap of progress and then only apply it to one dorm.

  6. Jess says:

    No news on the other RBA dorms yet, though I’ve emailed a couple sources. I’ll let you know if I get any updates.

  7. Ruth '07 says:

    To be fair, it was Sam ’07s idea to learn all the words. Then we did Bombs over Baghdad. Also all his idea.

  8. milo'12 says:

    congratulation!Very impressive!

  9. omar '10 says:

    yesterday we were talking about this in the senior haus basement with the UA, I’m so glad that finally next house it’s not going to be a ‘trap’.

    not that it ever affected me… but yeah, i’m glad for the rest.


  10. omar '10 says:

    and yeah, I agree with milena ’11, we were in next house this past summer as part of ‘interphase program’ and the rooms are actually nice.
    but yeah, hopefully it will have a culture sometime soon and be attractive for others.

  11. milo '12 says:

    The other milo says ‘hi!’

  12. Karen says:

    I know all the words too! Woohoo!

  13. Reg says:

    So, is the Next House President Franklyn Lau or Lao?

    I’m just being picky :D

  14. Jess says:

    Lau, though he was reported as “Lao” in the Tech.

  15. Sam says:

    I mean, I still need to get down Big Boi’s verse before I have completely mastered B. O. B. On topic: Andre 3000 went to MIT. He lived in Macgregor.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I still don’t fully understand. Why would MIT isolate just Next House for RBA and not allow freshman placed there to participate in REX in the first place? What was their basis for doing so? *scratches head*

  17. Anonymous says:

    I wrote the SAT for the first time in november ( couldnt do it earlier because i didnt have a passport….dont ask…) and i fell deathly ill on the day and only managed to get a 2020. I really want to do the SAT in jan again because i KNOW i can do better.On what basis does MIT accept jan SAT scores?

    i do think that i am academically competent and while my academic record proves that i dont want SAT scores to seem to exhibit the contrary. I absolutely love MIT , have done the alumni interview and i’m now working on the application in earnest… This is the ONE place i want to go to and i’m perfectly miserable that my SAT scores might in any way ruin my chances…

    what do i do?


  18. Taylor says:

    Does this work the opposite way as well? Meaning: do freshmen get to look at Next House as one of their options during REX?

  19. But I’m so glad they gave you a side of lard, because then you came running to us. which is like suffering for a bit, but now having this delicious Hogwarts beginning-of-the-year feast for the rest of MIT. YAYYYY!