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The Jack in Black is Back

By Jack Florey
One of MIT's oldest students has returned again this rush to contribute to the delinquency of the Class of 1997. Starting last Friday and continuing through Sunday night, Jack Florey led the infamous "Orange Tours," showing students all the sights around MIT they should see ... and a few they shouldn't.

At the start of the Orange Tours, freshmen were introduced to the numerous guides who, by some remarkable coincidence, were all named Jack. After instructions and a warning about the "men in blue suits," the crowd was divided into three groups, each accompanied by a full set of guides.

According to one guide, Jack Florey '94, "Moving 40 people into a basement or on a roof without being seen or heard is rather tricky. But the Jacks move quickly, and so long as the freshmen remain quiet, things go smoothly."

Another guide, Jack Florey '92, added, "We've been doing this for a long time. We have it down to a science now, complete with scouts, radios, and a headquarters monitoring our progress."

The first stop for one group was a roof location overlooking Killian Court. As they waited for the go-ahead from Central, they shared some of the legends, lore, and myth of MIT hacking with the new arrivals on campus. The story of the Cathedral hack of Lobby 7 was very popular this year, as this is the first set of Orange Tours that had the opportunity to chronicle last year's hack. Once the go-ahead signal was received via radio, the group moved off to the next location.

The back drop of a 15-foot-tall Jack Florey mural in a sub-basement made an impressive setting for one Jack to explain the do's and dont's of signing in. "Most hackers aren't proud to discover Lobby 7. Hence, it is poor form to sign in there. Sign-ins should be small, discrete, and in places difficult to reach. When individuals become over zealous, sign-ins become graffiti, and wall murals like the ones here get painted over by physical plant." The freshmen here listen attentively, as they no doubt will be making their first sign-ins before midterms this year. More stories of hacking are told before the group heads out again.

A few twisting corridors bring them to a ladder that leads them into the deepest bowels of MIT -- the steam tunnels. The heat here is almost unbearable, and the group is forced to go slowly, in single file through the narrow passageway. It doesn't last long however, as a few twists bring them out suddenly into the night air. The freshmen cluster silently in the darkness, and the Jacks whisper more stories.

Shortly after the entire group has assembled outside, the scouts report back that the passage is clear, and they can start towards their next destination. This time they are headed back to the roof.

This high point provides a dramatic view of the campus, and a perfect opportunity to cool off after the heat of the basement. As the wide-eyed freshmen look out over the Student Center and the nearby Campus Police headquarters, the Jacks answer questions.

One freshman, Fred T. Dormitore '97, asks, "What do those signs mean by `No Toad Sexing?' " Jack explains the history of those messages, and the freshmen already seem to be preparing to find a place where such an act would be permissible. As hour approaches 3:00 a.m., some of the group begins to show fatigue. This is the Jacks' cue to get the group going again.

A short journey brings the 40 freshmen and Jacks back to the East Campus courtyard, where they meet with the other two groups. After a round of donuts and punch, the oldest and most knowledgeable Jacks begin to address the full crowd. They tell stories of the most spectacular hacks that have taken place over the years, including the "No Knife" exhibit, and the legend of the USS Tetazoo.

A few of the less hardy freshmen fall asleep, lulled by the soft breezes and distantly breaking dawn. The group slowly thins out, and by 5:30 am, the last legends have been passed to the next generation of hackers, some of whom will certainly return next year with a new name, Jack Florey.

About the author: Jack Florey is a mythical character created on the spur of a moment to help cover an insufficiently planned hack. He has been registered for classes at MIT twice before, but has reportedly never passed a class. It has been the tradition of the residents of East Campus to become Jack Florey for a few nights each year to educate incoming students in the ways, means, and ethics of hacking.