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Looking Back at the `Most Flammable' On-Campus Stories of the Past Year: 18: 18

Column by Bill Jackson
Opinion Editor
____1991 was a year to be remembered for a lot of things on campus. The new Biology Requirement. A sorority house. The loss of the Magnet Lab. The continuing failure of Paul Gray to spontaneously explode.

According to the National Fire Service, which has generously given me permission to print this list, these were the Most Flammable Stories of 1991.

* After being named dean of the School of Engineering, Joel Moses PhD '67 parts the Red Sea and leads the Engineers out of the desert. Charlton Heston wants to star in the film.

* The Mech. E. Department votes that "A typical master's degree in mechanical engineering should not take longer than one and a half years." The vote comes after years and years of faculty debate on the subject

.* Steven H. Baden '92 asks a friend for advice after he has an argument with his suite-mates. The friend tells Baden, "No problem, Steve, just flame 'em." The over-literal Baden does just that, and is sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting fire to parts of his suite in Burton House.

* HarrisGate: Associate Provost for the Arts and general scene-stealer Ellen T. Harris is accused of searching the desk of China Altman, her director of arts communications, and stealing files from the desk. Harris says, "There are some debates it's better not to become involved in." Harris is apparently not involved in Altman's subsequent dismissal from the office.

* The Committee on Discipline places many students from 1.00 on academic probation for collaborating on problem sets. The COD asks for the input of many other committees before making this decision.

* Senior House graduate resident tutor Andrew W. Howitt is expelled for his possible involvement in the drug-related death of David M. Moore '91. In a related story, the Institute retroactively revokes the degrees of anyone who graduated from MIT and went on to work for a cigarette company.

* On Family Weekend, a random guy wearing a knee-length skirt and nothing else sits in Lobby 7 reading aloud from Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." No kidding.

* Acting under the guise of building a new biology building, MIT conspires to dig a big hole in the middle of campus and meticulously maintain it from early summer until the end of the year.

* The Overlap Group, including MIT and the Ivy League, decides to stop exchanging information about common applicants. The Committee on Discipline places most of the schools on academic probation as a result.

* As a part of the Dan Quayle Governmental Opportunity for All program, Anastasia Elizabeth Anne McGeever '93 and Jeremy Paul Kirby '92 are elected president and vice president, respectively, of the Undergraduate Association.

* Freshmen are asked to take a new Math Diagnostic Test. Each of the 50 questions is worth one point. The administration is concerned when the Math Department calculates the average score to be 76.

* Continuing their power trip, the Calendar Committee declares that, for the rest of the century every Tuesday will be an Institute Monday, and that an extra day, "VestDay," will be added to the end of the each week to "help students catch up on their work."

* Alpha Phi is the first MIT sorority to move into its own house. The chapter president is quoted in The Tech, saying "In the past, if something broke we'd just call [Physical Plant], but we've built shelves in our closets, done some minor plumbing, and changed some light bulbs." The classroom repair number FIXIT immediately begins forwarding its calls to the Alpha Phi house.

* The Coop announces that the annual rebate is 5 percent, continuing the long-term decline. The decline is due to the heavy cost of upkeep for the lingerie forest which MIT students must negotiate in order to get to the bookstore.

* Following the success of his performance "How to Give a Woman an Orgasm," Archie H. Roberts '93 writes a sequel, "How to Give a Man an Orgasm." The show is rejected for being far too short to satisfy half of the audience.

* The UA Council holds a meeting to discuss the future of the MIT housing system. Associate Provost for Fun Stuff Samuel J. Keyser distracts the crowd with a story about his name being in The New Yorker while Associate Dean Jim Tewhey sneaks out the back. Verdict: Administration bad, current system good. Score: Administration 1, Students 0.

* The NSF awards Florida State University a $120 million grant for a new magnet lab. In a related story, the NCAA awards MIT a competitive Division I football team.

* In a stunning move, the faculty follows up its resolution to create a mandatory biology requirement with a resolution requiring every undergraduate, starting with the class of 1998, to major in biology. One defiant engineer is quoted as saying, "I'm not afraid to learn how to work on bacteria and yeasts and stuff. What software do they run?"