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Freshmen- join MIT activities

Column/Ben Stanger

"Don't worry, you're on pass/fail."

If you're a freshman, you'll hear this statement countless times. Everyone has different opinions on how freshmen should use this luxury, and many question whether it should exist at all.

I have always supported the MIT pass/fail system, though not solely to give freshmen more time to adapt or to have leeway to lay back during their first year. More than anything else, pass/fail gives freshmen time to join a student activity.

I remember the first time I walked into The Tech's office. They had sent me an impressive summer mailing, and I had wanted to write for a newspaper ever since I watched my first episode of Lou Grant.

To my delight, what I saw at the paper reminded me of the television show. The Tech showed me its own individual character, different from what I expected, but special in its own right.

The newsroom was littered with miscellaneous press releases and spun with activity. It was exciting to watch a group of students looking so professional.

My first story was a feature on Rush week Orange Tours. I spoke to some hackers I had met on my Orange Tour, as well as Dean Robert Sherwood and Campus Police Chief James Olivieri.

I was nervous about talking to students and members of the administration, but interviewing has since become a natural event.

The experience in writing, journalism and MIT issues that The Tech has given me has been very important. Even more significantly, however, The Tech has been a niche and even a home in many senses. In this, it shares its vitality and purpose with all other student activities.

How can a loosely-organized collection of students gathered from across a mile-long campus create a home? That is a question you probably couldn't answer without spending an entire night watching rambling news stories become tight and concise, copy and advertisements filling blank white boards, and a set of vague ideas becoming a newspaper.

Members of MIT activities tend to form bonds that go beyond the office: having dinner with the people you work with can be very satisfying.

Many people at the paper do become very involved, and it is a pleasure to work with them. We are working very hard to be as good as we can. Wherever that leads us, we will have had a good time and learned a lot doing it.

I encourage freshmen to use pass/fail for this kind of experience. It is a different and more important education than your classes can give you.

Of course, it is important not to let an activity drain too much of your time. You should not let your classes suffer or have members of your living group cease to recognize you because of your involvement in student activities.

My classes and the residents on my hall were challenging, but I did not want to confine myself to them alone.

The Tech gave me another way of interacting with people bearing diverse ideas and backgrounds. That's what college is supposed to be about, and any decisions you make in the next four years should bear this in mind.

Join up!