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How to Survive Rush and Keep Smiling

Column By A. Arif Husain
Associate News Editor

On this first day of Residence and Orientation Week, I extend my pen in a gesture of welcome to this year's freshmen, our newest stock. Your decision to join the ranks of the world's most technologically-endowed has landed you on the doorstep of a two-week initiation. You will be faced with life-shaping choices and newfound obstacles. At the same time, you will be overrun by new opportunities and potential.

Think of it this way: rush is like puberty. Everybody goes through it. Nobody really likes it. But you're basically better off when it's over.

The good thing is, rush has loads of potential. Unfortunately, when I was a frosh, I didn't have the perspective to tap into it. If only someone could have written a column in The Tech with some useful suggestions.

Okay, so that was a cheap transition, but you're still reading aren't you? Now where was I? Right, Rush.

The most important thing to remember is that through all the pomp and circumstance, this thing was set up for your benefit. Secondly, realize that my last statement was a bold-faced lie. Rush is as much for your benefit as Operation Desert Storm was for Kuwait's. The real issue is that there are more freshmen than there are Institute beds. The Institute therefore depends on the independent living lroup system (i.e. fraternities and sororities) to compensate, and rush is the time for them to do so. True, there is also a dormitory rush element, but that's just the bun; ILGs are the real beef.

Don't get me wrong, however. I don't fault the system. I don't really mind the book; I just don't like the cover.

In any case, you'll have to make a choice about your living arrangements. Fraternities and sororities prepare all year for these few weeks. Because of this, you can expect to be approached by more than your share of pledge-seeking Greeks inviting you to everything from dinner to dance aerobics. If you feel the urge, by all means, don't let me interfere. But if "fun with velcro" isn't your thing, help is just around the column.

Obviously, our dear brothers and sisters are working hard to distinguish freshmen from the few upperclassmen filtering about. You have the power to profit from the difficulty of their task. To get noticed, stroll around looking lost while singing your favorite Top 40 hit. Carry at least three campus maps and make sure they're visible. If possible, stop and get directions to the Charles River. Make conversation about that lovely cafeteria in the Student Center. Inquire as to the differences between the courses "one-eight-point-zero-one" and "one-eight-point-zero-one-one." I guarantee you'll hit Beacon Street before you can say omicron.

On the other hand, impersonating an upperclassmen can be perfected quite easily. First, make sure you're in a hurry. My theory is: if it can't be done fast, it's not worth doing. Second, don't carry any textbooks: Real nerds don't read. Third, complain a lot. Sure, getting admitted to MIT was the best thing to happen to you since the invention of the tactile-feedback keyboard; but that doesn't mean you can go around looking excited. Two months from now you'd sell your soul for a vacation in Siberia; so don't start off looking like you're in La La Land. Besides, it's just not right.

Most importantly you need to have the right demeanor. Your expression should reflect maturity, wisdom, and a deeper understanding of the world, while maintaining the dazed apathy characteristic of an overworked beaver. If you need help, drink about 5 cups of coffee and then run to Wellesely and back. That should give you the right flavor.

I'm willing to wager my monogrammed Chuck Vest boxer shorts that a little careful planning will make rush a far more palatable experience. After all, you're bound to end up living somewhere. Even if it turns out to be the sofas on the fifth floor of the Student Center, I guarantee you won't be alone.