When it came time for REX (Residence Exploration, when MIT freshmen could tour the various different dormitories on campus to make decisions of where they want to belong), those of us that were upperclassmen were told about certain things that we should or should not do, for instance, the usual “alcohol is absolutely not okay” idea. Another idea ruled unokay is anti-rushing, or the act of discouraging someone from wanting to move to a living group. And today I want to challenge that stance as unreasonable.
In short, I believe that the condemnation of anti-rushing has a high potential of reducing long-term satisfaction for short-term happiness.
At the surface, there are questionable breakages of symmetry effected by the idea that rushing is okay and anti-rushing is not. It is strange that saying “we think you would be happy here” is acceptable advice and saying “we think you would be happier in [other dorm]” is not. Thinking deeper about this standard, it prevents people from telling others, from hopefully a more experienced knowledge about the culture of various living groups, that they sincerely believe that one of many options is probably not what who they are talking to want, and that they might be happier elsewhere. If this was allowed, it may grant a prospective freshman a happier rest of the year, and if instead of such a person a freshman that meshes better with the dorm moved in, the rest of the dorm a happier rest of the year as well. Both of these longer-term likely betterments of life are sacrificed for fear of the temporary possibility of perceived insult.
One of the core pervasive failures of society as it currently stands is its standard of restraining frank openness for the appearance of greater welcoming, and the repression of anti-rushing perpetuates this. If the idea of REX is to allow one the pursuit of conditions for greater happiness, then it is counterproductive to one-side-ify the space of suggestive advice the residents of a community can provide for the searcher’s information.
It is for this reason that I give my praise to Bexley Hall for arguably the best history of productive rushes. Whereas most dorms’ presentations of themselves towards prospective community members are misleadingly optimistic (Is this what this dorm is always like? The answer is no.), particularly in what is known as the i3 video (a video that in extreme cases arguably provides zero information about a dormitory beyond what the place looks like), Bexley is very frank in reflecting the nature of its community. It ends up being the case, therefore, that after information, the set of people who end up wanting to live in Bexley is most likely actually people who would like to, would contribute positively to Bexley’s culture, and find benefit in the environment that Bexley provides. And while many may frown upon Bexley for the act of anti-rushing, they should admit that much of the rest of the MIT undergraduate population, in sustaining a policy of describing themselves in only terms leaning toward the cohesive direction, likely does not end up as sure that the set of freshmen that end up moving in is the set that would be the happiest.