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'The Source' Debuts as New, Expanded Information Booth

By Jeremy Hylton
Chairman

The gift of the Class of 1994 has gone from seniors' pledges to reality faster than any in recent memory. The Source, a much-expanded information desk on the first floor of the Student Center, opened recently.

The Source hopes to provide a broad range of services for students and visitors. The eight-person staff answers questions, sells copies of Technique and other student publications, sells tickets to on-campus events, and provides information about the campus and its goings-on.

The Class of 1994 pledged $30,000 to be collected over a five-year period, to pay for construction of The Source's booth. The Campus Activities Complex advanced the entire amount and expects that the graduates will eventually collect enough money to repay the costs, according to Ted E. Johnson, assistant director for programs in the CAC.

The Source opened officially at 1 p.m. on Aug. 23 and was staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until Registration Day, except for the weekend of rush, according to Andrew Q. Kraft '95, manager of The Source.

Though some construction remains before the booth will be completed, students are working regularly at The Source weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At night, Safewalk uses the space for its dispatcher.

"We may expand our hours if there seems to be a need," but the need is not apparent yet, Kraft said.

Source sells tickets

Organizers are very excited about the new ticket sales window. "There really is no natural place on campus to go for tickets. We're hoping to be a hub for buying tickets," Johnson said.

"We're hoping to get things like [Student Center Committee] events. That's when the service is really going to be useful," Kraft said.

The booth sold tickets for the recent Musical Theater Guild performance and sells super-tickets for the Lecture Series Committee. "We're trying to complement the student groups' sales," said Peter D. Cummings, business manager in the CAC.

Cummings expects that groups will continue to use booths in Lobby 10 to sell tickets and provide publicity for their events.

The amount of information available at The Source includes a much broader range than entertainment options. To date, Kraft said the most common question has been, "Where's the bathroom?"

Organizers hope to provide academic forms, keep a television set on hand for spot news events, and - in its most recent endeavor - provide a car pool service called Ridelink that will help commuters find rides. The booth is also a drop-off location for the SCC postering service.

With Ridelink, commuters who need a ride or can offer a lift can register and get a list of other commuters in their area. Kraft set up a program that matches people by zip code and along major travel routes, Cummings said.

The Ridelink program is being sponsored jointly by The Source, the Planning Office, and the Office of the Senior Vice President.

In the near future, The Source will install a television that will show the MIT Cable information channel. The television will also broadcast important news events.

People can get information by walking up to the booth, calling 252-1994, sending electronic mail to thesource@mit.edu, or using The Source's World Wide Web page, Kraft said.

"We're trying to make ourselves available in as many ways as possible," Kraft said.

The student workers use the same computer database available via the World Wide Web to keep up-to-date on events. "Whenever we find out something is going on, we add it," Johnson said.

Booth prepared over summer

Kraft was hired as the manager of The Source in May, Cummings said. He was responsible for much of the planning, the construction process, the schedules, the training session for the workers, and setting up the computer system.

"It's been a full time job because it's a startup," Cummings said.

Kraft was enthusiastic about the seven students that will work at The Source. Each worker is in charge of a different service, so they consider it more than just a part time job, Kraft said.

"It's a good staff," Kraft said. "They are people who really know the 'Tute."

The operating costs for the booth will be about $25,000 a year, Johnson said. The vendors who use the first floor of the Student Center will all pay to support the operating costs.

The Campus Activities Complex had hoped to expand the old information desk in the Student Center lobby and suggested The Source as a possibility for the senior class gift last year, Johnson said.

In addition to providing student services, Johnson said the CAC saw the booth as a way to "help us tell what's wrong with the building." As an example, Johnson said that the number of people asking where the bathrooms are suggests that their locations should be more clearly marked.