MIT Fights Stress, Funds Strippers

New ‘SEX-C’ fund creates mixed reactions to use of student fees

What if Currier’s “No Pants Dance” included a professional striptease? That is just the kind of party that might go down at MIT’s Simmons Hall, where students have recently approved a risque fund for “adult entertainment.”

Residents of the hall initially voted in favor of the “SEX-C Fund”—Simmons Entertainment Executive Committee—last spring, and an appeal to overturn the decision was voted down last week by a bare majority.

The creation of the fund has excited some students and aroused anger in others.

Agustya R. Mehta, a junior at MIT and the Simmons Hall officer who brought forward last week’s appeal, is continuing to protest the fund. Mehta is taking his appeal to the hall’s judicial committee, a student board whose job it is to settle dormitory disputes.

“I didn’t really want my money to go to paying for strippers,” said Mehta. All students at Simmons pay a $75 fee that goes to funding hall events.

Mehta argued that “some freshman are paying for something they can’t even legally participate in.”

Mehta said that he has also raised concerns about the possible damage to MIT’s reputation.

“Especially because Duke lacrosse scandal happened [last spring],” he said. “I pointed out that this wasn’t exactly the best publicity that MIT would want.”

MIT junior Lawrence F. Bronk, one of SEX-C’s creators, told MIT’s student newspaper that the proposal began as “a joke,” but now serves as a lesson of what can happen when people don’t participate in their residential affairs.

The meeting last spring where SEX-C was first proposed was attended by only 29 of Simmons’ 350 residents, and many of those who attended were close friends of the students who authored the titillating proposal. That vote passed 20 to 9.

“[Last spring’s proposal] was full of double entendres,” said Mehta. “[It] had the whole auditorium cracking up.”

Mehta said that he was not amused when the proposal was actually approved.

Simmons Housemaster John M. Essigman suggested yesterday that SEX-C supporters should let their joke go.

“My chief concern from the beginning has been the potential for damage to the reputations of those on the pro-stripper side,” he wrote in an e-mail. “As an ‘advisor’ I feel compelled to advise these young students, with brilliant careers ahead of them, that Google is forever.”

The SEX-C group is led by a “Head” and “SHAFT”—Supporting-Head-Assistants-For-Transactions.

Pforzheimer House Committee co-chair Katherine S. Wong said that, at Harvard, “hairy situations” arise when Houses choose to support activities over the objections of some students.

“HoCo money routinely goes to alcohol, which again, only a certain group of people enjoy and others are opposed to,” she said.

But, she added, “where there is a will, there is a way.”

—Staff writer Nina L. Vizcarrondo can be reached at nvizcarr@fas.harvard.edu.