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APO Cancels '92 Big Screw; Contest May Be Discontinued

By Jayant Kumar
Staff Reporter

The annual Alpha Phi Omega Big Screw contest, an MIT tradition since 1967, has been cancelled this year due to organizational problems and may possibly be cancelled permanently.

"The short explanation is that the person who was project chairing Big Screw backed out at the last minute. Since no one else was interested in project chairing, we decided to cancel the contest for the year," said APO President John W. F. McClain '92.

"The spirit of the contest has also changed. It was supposed to be viewed as poking fun in a good-humored way, but it came to be viewed in a harsher light. We've been getting complaints that the contest was becoming mean-spirited." McClain added.

"I thought it would be best to cancel it this year if I couldn't get someone who was willing to put in the time to make the contest a success, especially since enthusiasm for the contest has decreased somewhat over the past few years," said APO Vice President Crystal K. Reul '94.

Reul said she did not really know why enthusiasm for the contest has decreased, but cited poor publicity or increased apathy to such events as possible reasons. "Maybe the contest is just getting old and is outdated," she said.

Event may be discontinued

APO conducted a review of Big Screw during the fall of 1988 in which faculty and then-President Paul Gray were consulted. "At that time, we decided to continue the contest," said McClain.

Lately, with a combination of apathy and decreased fundraising, the service group considered discontinuing the event completely. In past years, the contest raised from $1,000 to $1,500. Between $600 and $900 have been raised in recent years.

"This year may well have been the last year anyway," said McClain. "We like to do a high visibility event each term, but it was too late to move something into its place this year," he said.

Future events under consideration include duck races and matching of baby pictures of professors.

In the Big Screw contest, begun in 1967, members of the MIT faculty and staff are nominated and students vote for them by donating money under the staff member's name. The faculty or staff member who has the most money under his name wins the Big Screw. The winner then chooses which charity will receive the proceeds of the contest.

In 1975, APO began circulating a single screw from one year's contest winner to the next instead of giving out individual awards. The present screw is a 2-foot-long left-handed aluminum helix with the names of winners from 1975 to the present engraved on it.