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Keim Keynote Inspires Freshman at Killian Kick Off

As Dr. William Keim charmed the freshman class again with his dynamic speaking style, he outlined many very important messages for freshmen to consider as they began Rush, and for the years to come. The following is excerpted from his keynote address before the beginning of Rush yesterday afternoon.

"I want you to have an informed Rush while you're here. And look at all your options. The smart person is the person that looks at all their choices -- fraternities, sororities, independent living groups, the residence halls. They look at everything. Take a look. Open yourself up."

"Number two, those of you who Rush -- it's a dry Rush. And if they're giving you booze, then they're blowing it. So that would mean that they're idiots, and you wouldn't want to live with them for the rest of your lives.

"Number three, this is a diverse community. Look around you today -- different race, creed, color, national orientation, sexual orientation. I expect people with your intelligence to accept people different from themselves. I want you to reach out the hand of brotherhood and sisterhood here to anybody that will be your pal."

Keim also enumerated ten items and "three little things I want to remind you of so you get out of MIT with your diploma in one hand and your self-esteem in the other."

1. Be proud to be a freshman.

"The first thing I want you to remember being at MIT is that it's great to be a freshman, and if you are a growing human being, you're always a freshman at something.

"I'm a freshman at golf right now. I've been good at every sport I've ever played. But golf, I can't get. And if I teed off right now, none of you would have to move! Everybody would be fine."

"But then I'm going to be a sophomore at golf. Then a junior at golf. I might even go to golf graduate school somewhere."

"Now, those of you that are upperclassmen, you bear an awesome responsibility. ... Because this is a little scary, even for smart people. I'm not the only one who walks down the halls here occasionally feeling like I don't belong here."

"It's OK to be a freshman. Congratulations for stepping into this next new thing. I hope you're better at this than I am at golf, and I've got a feeling that you are."

2. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

"Number two, life is not a dress rehearsal. This isn't a warm-up exercise for what's next. But I hear students all the time, and I've worked with students for 25 years, and it's like, `When I become a sophomore, then I'll care. As soon as I become a junior, then I'll care. As soon as I meet Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, then I'll care. As soon as I get into grad school, as soon as I get out of grad school, as soon as I get the PhD, as soon as I get married, as soon as the kids get into school, as soon as the kids get out of school, as soon as we get the second home on the Vineyard, as soon as we get the IRA funded, then you die.'

"The only difference between me and you is that I know my life is half over. I'm a white guy, in case you haven't noticed. My average life expectancy is 78 years old. I'm 39; it's half over. Yours is a quarter over, but you don't know it until I just told you. You've already spent 6500 of your 25,000 days on earth.

"How's it going? If you like it, keep doing it. If you don't like it, now is the time to change.

3. Live your life with passion.

"Number three, I want you to live your life with passion. I learned about passion from one of my international students, Kimmy, from Japan."

"He said, `Dr. Keim, may I take your class?'

"Kimmy, my class is full."

"May I audit?"

"Kimmy, in America, if you audit you don't get any credit."

"Oh, Dr. Keim, I do not care about credit. I simply want to learn."

"He came every single day. Tuesday of dead week, he comes to me, "I will not come to class on Thursday."

"I said, `Well, okay. What's going on? Is your family okay?'

" `My family is very good. I am being married next week in Kyoto.'

"He comes to class every day, the one that he's taking for no credit. Now he's asking me for permission to miss class he comes to every day so he can get married... much like you.

"He said, `I learned one thing from you, Dr. Keim. I'll never forget it. ... You teach me to live my life with passion. Not to be bored. Not to take my life for granted. But to live each day fully with passion.'

"I say, `Kimmy, I want you to remember this on your wedding night, will you?'

"He goes like this: Awwe. And I bet they're calling him the Hammer of Kyoto, you know what I mean? I bet his wife wants to come back to America just to see what he can learn in grad school.

"The reality is this he got the message. This is a one ticket ride. You've got to punch your ticket and get on with it. And enjoy it. My 20s, gone. My 30s, evaporating into the sunset of April. I've got two people in my house now who call me daddy, and every time they call me daddy I look around for my father. But they're talking to me."

"The reality is, it's going, going, going, going... Enjoy it."

4. Who are you becoming?

"I can give a darn less what you study at MIT; what I'm concerned about is what kind of person walks out of hear on graduation day. And your major?"

"The average college student changes their majors almost four times. And some of you this year, in the middle of this first year, are going to be going `Oh my God, what am I going to study?'

"The reality is, I want you to ask yourself, `Who am I becoming? What kind of person am I developing into? I told my girlfriend I wouldn't cheat on her while I was in Cambridge. Am I cheating on her or not? I told my father that I'd go to class. Am I going? I told the people in my country I'd come home and help them. Are those still my plans?'

"The education worthy of the name here is essentially the education of character. Be the good person that you have to potential to be, and great things will happen when you leave campus."

5. Study

"The most important thing, the most important thing any freshman can do, and I want all of you to say this out after me, Study!"

"Let me scare you. I want to get you to the point that even though we doing talks, and what's the other nice word? `Pass, no record.' Not fail, not no credit, but pass, no record. It doesn't even exist. But they'll keep the tuition dollars.

"So while I'm going to focus on pass, I want just for one second all of the valedictorians and salutatorians to stand up. Here's a little flash for you people, next year, somebody's going to get a `B.'

"And the rest of the people sitting down with a 3.9 are going, `Boy, I'm a real failure here.'

"The reality is that everybody tries and you're not going to repeat a year with anybody but yourself. But there's going to come a point after which you're going to be working to see who can get what and go where."

6. Be a contributer.

"I want you to be a contributer. To what? To the three million homeless people who live in our country, and a hell of a lot who live in this city.

"You know, we live in an interesting nation, friends. A nation that says `Give us your poor and your huddled masses and we'll let them sleep on our steam grates.' A nation that says, `All men are created equal, except men of color and women.' A nation that says, `Don't sell weapons to terrorists, let us do it.'

"Well the reality is that we need you to make the contribution. Do you understand. Hear this. Hear this with your heart and not your ears.

"You've got a thing called City Days. It's coming in here. We're going to bring children without the priveleges you and I have. We're going to bring them here so they might set their goals higher. God, there's an opportunity to contribute right there."

"Help a man get into the refrigerator box, and your room, wherever you're living, is going to seem huge. Feed a hungry person, and that food in the dining hall or in the fraternity is going to seem like its just really fine cuisine. Every time I feel sorry for myself, I get out and do something for somebody else and it puts my whole life in perspective. Be a contributor. Help other people."

7. Say what you mean. Do what you say. And when you don't, admit it.

"Have you all learned that cover ups don't work? Is everybody clear about this? We don't need MITgate. We don't need freshman-class-gate. So what you mean? Do what you say? And when you do it, admit it.

"Four things I want you to think of. If you do these four things, it's going to be easy to be an ethical person.

"1. Before you do something, ask yourself, why am I doing this? When you're standing on your head drinking a margherita the night before a final. why am i doing this? Why are you not doing your homework when you are paying the tuition dollars for it. Why am I doing this?

"2. What's the law? What do you call sex with a girl 16 years old? Statutory rape. What if she comes into your room and says, `Hi. I'm yours.' What do you call it? Statutory rape. If you don't know that, it's not going to matter. Know the laws. Know the campus policies.

"3. What are the consequences of your behavior? This is the one most of you aren't very good at. That's not because you're stupid obviously, it's because you haven't lived very long."

"4. I want you to ask yourself what are my moral principles? ... Treat people like you'd like to be treated. Gentlemen, that might mean for you that you treat the women you dated like you hope to God somebody's treating your sister somewhere."

8. No Hate

"I want you to reach out your hand in friendship to anyone who will be your friend, regardless of race, creed, color, national orientation, and sexual orientation."

"You've got a program coming up next Thursday that's not in any of the material you've received. It's called It Takes One to Know One. It's a performance and discussion Thursday on diversity. That's what I'm talking about right now. It's called diversity."

"Race, creed, color, national orientation. We had a Pakistani guy who was really cool, but that last one ... race, creed, color, national orientation, and ... Are you talking about [mumbled] ... Are you talking about [coughed] ... Are you talking about homos? I don't even drink the milk when that's written on the cap."

"There are very active and high quality gay and lesbian students associations on this campus. If that's you, plug in there. I'm not asking those of you who are heterosexual to run into the quad and say, `Hi. I'm looking for gay friends. Since we're neighbors let's be friends.'

"I'm not asking that. But I am going to you ask those of you who are heterosexual to stop being so damn hateful."

"The people next to you are human beings, regardless of their race, creed, color, national orientation, sexual orientation, where they came from, what they believe in. I demand that people with your intelligence treat each other with dignity and respect. Because if it can't happen at MIT, it ain't gonna happen anywhere."

9. The meaning of success.

"I know using a basketball coach might not be the best person for you, except for the fact that the center of UCLA is named after this man. Because he said, `I'm an educator. I just do it on the basketball court.' He coached for 27 seasons and he had 27 winning seasons.

"More importantly, in 1957, he started to take the Indiana State team to the post-season tournament, and the organizing committee said, `Leave the negro boy at home. It's gonna cause trouble.' And he said, `I don't see color, I see effort,' and took his whole team home. The next year, they invited him and he took the first African American player to the post season tournament. His name is John Wood.

"Here's what he says about success: `Success is a peace of mind that comes from knowing that you did the best you were capable of doing, and you are the only one that will ever know that.' You can bullshit everybody. Lincoln was wrong: `You can't fool all the people all of the time.' Nice try, Abe. The reality is that most of us are real good, especially people with your talent, at putting on a nice front.

"So I want you to do your best here. And you know what? If you wind up with a 2.0 and that's your best, more power to you. But if you can get a 3.5, get a 3.5. Set high goals and do your best."

10. The secret of life.

"Can I tell it to you? 'Cause I know it. I'm going to give you the secular secret, because the sacred one is up to each one of you. ... Find something you love to do, and do it well enough that someone will pay you to do it."

"Paying me to speak is like paying cows to poop in the field: they'll do it anyway! If you went up to a cow and said, `If you continue to make piles, we're gonna feed you oats, the cow would go, "Cool." ' "

"Get up every morning and go, `Ya-hoo!Chemical engineering!Yi-yippee-kay-yo-kay-yay!Nuclear physics!' And if you can't do that, change majors and be a poli-sci major or something else. The reality is: study something you love."

The three little things.

1. Sex.

"Look, don't be embarrassed, even those of you from polite cultures, that we're talking about sex. Because all of us here come from a long line of people that have been having sex for centuries."

"Let's talk a little bit about sex, real quickly, here. Your choices for sex are: no sex, safer sex, or AIDS."

"It's okay not to have sex. Not having sex is a great way not to get pregnant. It's a great way not to get AIDS. It's a great way not to get a sexually transmitted disease. It's a great way not to have sexual flashbacks on your honeymoon. It's ok not to have sex, but if you choose to be sexual, use a condom, use a condom, and use a condom. And women, don't assume we know how to put 'em on, because most of the time, we use them for water balloons."

"No sex, safer sex, or AIDS."

2. Alcohol.

"Your decisions about sex will be a lot easier at MIT'll be a lot easier if you're sober. Because guys, you go into a party and check somebody out sober, you go, `Alright!' Eight beers later, you put on your beer goggles, and you go, `I must have her! She's going to be the children of my mothers.'

"It'd almost be funny if we didn't know that two out of three women that are raped are raped by men they know under the influence of alcohol on dates. Two out of three campus rapes, by men they know under the influence of alcohol. Two-thirds of your parents' divorce cases: alcohol-related. Two-thirds of the homicides in this country: alcohol-related. Forty percent of the college suicides: alcohol-related."

"I've buried eight college students so far, in my role as a campus minister, and I'm sick of it!Please, if you choose to drink, practice low- or no-risk drinking. I have a new definition for ya: if you have problems when you drink, you're a problem drinker."

3. Drugs.

"I want you to drink responsibly or choose not to. Especially at a place like this. It's a lot like this at Berkeley -- lots of cocaine, lots of drugs. Students come up to me all the time, Dr. Keim, your speech was okay, but that thing about drugs, you're way off base.

"And I would say to them the same thing I say to you, `Really, when was the last time one of your friends who wasn't stoned eat a five-pound block of cheese?' "

"In 1990, between their trips to the Betty Ford Clinic and bouncing 80,000 bad checks, the clariboyance of clear thought, Congress passed a law for you. It said, any drugs used within a mile of a university campus doubles the penalty upon conviction. What was a misdemeanor for me is now a felony for you."

"Please, be aware and very careful. I'd like you to live drug-free."

"The beginning of your first year; you're future is so damn bright. As the song said two years ago, you ought to have your sunglasses on. I'd hate for you to trip over something stupid on the way and not get your degree and leave here with your self-esteem."

"It's not too late for any of you to have the best possible life. So by the authority vested in me, by me, I hereby relieve you of your past screw-ups and tell you, that was then and this is now. And if you do what I've asked you to do, your future is immesurably bright. And if you don't, God be with you.