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Nice people lurk all over MIT

I was pulling long strings of lint out of my belly button the other day when my thoughts turned to the plight of the aboriginal tribes in northeastern Australia.

Sorry. Wrong columnist.

Actually, I've been nervous about writing columns ever since I found out that the mother of The Tech's chairman reads my drivel. Often these columns focus on the negative things about our campus, and I don't want the chairman's mom to think I'm a negative person. So I've decided to turn over a new leaf.

In an Athena cluster somewhere on East Campus, there is an exchange of graffiti on the wall. The first message is from someone who is depressed by life at MIT. One of the responses is "Smile and MIT will smile with you." To which someone else countered, "MIT couldn't smile if you paid it to."

This is a column about those people on campus who do indeed make MIT smile. MIT is, contrary to some people's beliefs, nicer than Hell. And the people who follow are some reasons why. Where appropriate, I've included information on where they can be contacted if you need their service, if you want to help or if this reminds you of something they once did for you and you just want to thank them. So here goes, in no particular order . . .

1/3 The MIT Activities Committee. Unbeknownst to many students, MITAC offers inexpensive tickets to movie theatres, shows and sporting events, as well as trips, coupon books and many other offers for members of the MIT community. If you are willing to enter the gross exterior of Building 20, you will find the trip worthwhile, the tickets cheap and the people pleasant to deal with. (20A-023, 10 am-3 pm Mon-Fri)

1/3 Asst. Dean Bonnie Walters, UASO. Anyone who had any sort of problem as a freshman probably remembers Bonnie, and the amazing part is that she remembers all of them too. She takes care of an amazing variety of events and issues during the course of a school year and is one of the nicer people to be found on the Infinite Corridor. (7-104)

1/3 House Deskworkers. These are the suckers who listen to your excuses about why you don't have a key and need to be let into a house. They get bitched at a lot, but without them I guarantee theft in dormitories would increase. (Various houses' desks)

1/3 Nightline Workers. These people do something I can't imagine: they give up more sleep than they have to, and they do this voluntarily! If people who give up nights to wait by a phone and answer random questions or help with a whole range of problems don't deserve a place on this list, I don't know who does. (253-8800, 7 pm-7 am during the term.)

1/3 Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer, Campus Police. A CP on a list of people who make MIT "smile?" Yes indeed. Sgt. Vossmer volunteers her time for a lot of extra work in the MIT community, she's willing to help victims of all kinds and she's got a unique sense of humor, too. (Campus Police, W31-215)

1/3 Student Information Processing Board. Besides having a larger selection of snack foods than the Stop & Shop on Memorial Drive, the SIPB office is full of very patient hackers. They are always willing to take a break from writing a window-driven, fully graphically-implemented simulation of the Earth's ecosystem to help a poor clueless person figure out who the hell this Kerberos fellow is and why he knows my password. (W20-557)

1/3 GAMIT Contact Line Workers. This is another resource which fills a necessary vacuum. These people give up their evenings so that the MIT community has a resource for a variety of issues involving sexuality. (3-6460, 8 pm-midnight, Sun-Wed)

1/3 Ina, The Walker Memorial Vegetable Person. Nobody in the world has ever been happier that you chose green beans, carrots or summer squash than Ina. Working the vegetable end of the entree line during lunch at Walker, she may very well be the nicest person employed by food service. Ina smiles at every customer, she is polite and she is pleasant to deal with; sometimes it seems as if ARA makes its workers go to an anti-charm school, but Ina missed all the classes.

1/3 The MIT Women's League. The League is probably most famous for sponsoring the Furniture Exchange, where members of the Institute Community can buy, sell or (hopefully) donate used furniture. It's a great way to help furnish a dorm or new apartment and a wonderful service they provide for MIT as a whole. (25 Windsor St, near the MIT Museum, Tues and Thurs, 10 am-2 pm)

1/3 Recycling Volunteers. These folks give up Friday nights or Saturday mornings to collect, sort and otherwise organize recyclables for their living groups. Pretty cool. And pretty selfless. (Call living groups and ask for their Recycling Chair)

Those are 10 of the individuals or groups who "make MIT smile." They are the first 10 I came up with; I'm sure everyone reading this can come up with ones that I missed. If you did, write in and I'll print the results in a future column.

That felt good. Now I can return to the usual drivel next time.


Tech opinion editor Bill Jackson '93 could not possibly have written this nice a column. The whereabouts of the real Bill Jackson are unknown.