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Women, Minorities Visit for Preview Weekend

By Eva Moy
Associate News Editor

Last weekend, MIT welcomed 258 new faces as prospective freshmen flocked to the campus from all over the country for the Campus Preview/Minority Spring Weekend. Admitted women and underrepresented minorities -- African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans -- had a chance to "go around, be a student, and explore," said Luis M. Gonzalez '92, one of the student coordinators for the weekend.

"We tried to give people a variety of views of MIT ... not think that everybody carries around an HP," said Derek X. Walker '92, another student coordinator.

The weekend included many organized activities, including welcome receptions, tours of athletic facilities and UROP labs, and a discussion on financial aid.

On Friday, Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Technology Heather N. Lechtman lectured on "The First Scientific Americans." She spoke about the way ancient peoples in Latin America and other countries used complex metallurgical techniques. It was "a nice way to relate the humanities to the technology," said Natalya Eliashberg '93, also a student coordinator.

There were also several social events, such as the African American/Native American and Mexican American/Puerto Rican extravaganzas, an ice cream orgy with Hard Rock Cafe volunteers serving the prospective freshmen, a performance by an MIT dance group, and the check-out barbecue on Saturday. "It went off successfully, but there weren't enough people who showed up," said Shawniqua T. Williams '94, a student coordinator.

In addition, many campus activities held special events, and some living groups also held parties during this weekend. Gonzalez expressed disappointment that these parties focused on the 224 women that were only a part of a weekend designed for minorities as well women.

Many prospective freshmen explored MIT by themselves or with their hosts. "If turnouts [to the activities] are low ... that's OK" because they can also learn by talking with MIT students, Gonzalez said. "In planning everything, we tried to center on answering their questions," he added.

"Talking to a lot of prefrosh ... they all were happy that they came up," Gonzalez said. "It's a good introduction [and it] erases a lot of questions and myths."

"Things went very well," Walker said. "It definitely was a good prefrosh weekend."

Many MIT students volunteered to help out with the weekend as airport greeters, hosts, and registration workers, Eliashberg said. "The turnout was really cool for students ... There was more interest than we could even accommodate." About 220 women and 40 men volunteered to host the visitors, and there were about 50 percent more volunteers than were needed.

Many prospective freshmen were satisfied with the weekend's events. Some felt that the visit helped them to decide if they wanted to attend MIT. But, as Laura F. Su of Concord, Calif., said, "The major decision is still financial aid."

Rebecca L. Smith, who visited from Beals Island, Maine, said, "I liked MIT a lot. It was a positive experience; I want to come here definitely now." She added, "I thought it would be more urban."

"It was fun, especially the Orange Tour," said Ellis Y. Chi of Saratoga, Calif.

"MIT is a big school; it has a big name. It's a school that you just hear about and don't see," Su said.

Curt T. Maughs of Brooklyn, N.Y., said, "It was a pretty strange experience," adding that the visit "helped a lot." He was also surprised that students here do not study all the time. There is a "pretty good social life" here, he added.

"I guess I had a lot of preconceived notions" about MIT, mostly negative ones, said Stephanie K. Hannon of Reston, Va. "All I really wanted to do [was] to see if I fit in here. ... Now, I'm considering going here," she added, "You sleep at weird times here."

Christine N. Lin '95, who served as a host, said, "I think it's a really good idea [for the prospective freshmen to] see what MIT is like during the year." She added, "I wish they would include more people" in addition to women and minorities.

"I think it was a great opportunity for prefrosh to get a feel of what MIT is like, especially for those ... outside the New England area," said Annette Centorino, the mother of a visiting prefrosh and an MIT employee.

"They had the stuff planned pretty well. More schools should do things like this," said James D. McLurkin '94, who was Maughs' host.