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Attention Freshmen: Don't Grow a Beard

Column by Anders Hove
Opinion Editor

Welcome, freshmen. When I was in your shoes, I had an older sister to tell me all about MIT. But it had been a few years since she'd been here, and, let's face it, she'd forgotten some things every frosh should know. I confess: The most important advice I got as a freshman I got from The Tech. The advice was this: "Don't grow a beard - you'll look like an idiot."

During your stay at MIT, you will meet living proof of this simple dictum. Modern science has nearly established that facial hair looks bad on everyone (my department's faculty excluded, of course). More importantly, however, half-grown undergrad beards bring with them the following dubious advantages: (1) The Committee on Discipline may confine bearded undergraduates to the SIPB office for the duration of the semester. (2) Bearded undergraduates may be forced to play "Magic, the Gathering" in the Fishbowl cluster. (3) The housing selection algorithm will be reversed for bearded undergrads, automatically assigning them to Bexley Hall. (4) Bearded undergraduates will never be able to get rid of the smell of Aramark food that always clings to their facial hairs. And, of course, (5) bearded undergrads will not be allowed to join sororities.

So if you get nothing else out of this column, freshmen, remember this: Don't grow a beard - you'll look like an idiot.

Beards aside, there are some tidbits of knowledge that every frosh should have. Those who read the following list closely might even come across the places where I forgot to omit top secret, "seasoned upperclasspeople only" factoids.

Don't eat at Lobdell, Networks, etc. Aramark has done their market research, and has decided to gear their product primarily for the Student Center rodent population. All you need to know about eating at MIT you can learn at Star Market. For the slacker crowd, check out those food trucks.

Having a customized Athena account does not make you "cool."

MIT has two humor publications: VooDoo and The Thistle.

You don't have to get a UROP to have an income. But it helps.

Nobody cares about your SAT score, high school GPA, or, for that matter, anything about your high school.

Not everyone who smiles is coming on to you. It's not that hard to avoid making a fool of yourself.

Your freshman adviser will take you out to dinner. Get a good one because this could be your only chance to befriend a faculty member. On the other hand, don't expect him or her to know anything about advising undergraduates.

Skip at least one class during your first week. Get a copy of the problem set from a friend. Feel good about it. You're on pass/no record: A' = B' = C.'

Write a letter to someone using a pen and ink. Start with your parents, move down to your high school friends, then your high school enemies. Wait at least four months before "flaming" someone over e-mail. Avoid e-mail lists. Remember that sarcasm, humor, and tone of voice are almost always misinterpreted over e-mail.

Course VI or EECSstands for the Department of Electrical Engineering andComputer Science. Not everyone at MIT majors in this. In fact, those who don't stand a better chance of escaping nerdliness. Furthermore, many of those who major in the humanities, arts, or social sciences end up leading rewarding, prosperous lives. But if you do choose Course VI, don't worry: You can change majors later.

Rollerblading is not allowed in MIT buildings.

Rush is a big deal because MIT won't build enough dormitories to house all students it admits every year. But that doesn't mean freshmen have to choose between an ILG and a quint.

Showering every day can be more rewarding than logging in every day. Try it.

People who wear capes or carry concealed disk guns may be hazardous to your health. Wait till you're a sophomore before deciding to "hang" with them.

If you're bored and really have nothing else to do, go to the library. It is located in Building 14. Only nerds play "Netrek."

Don't take rush seriously. You can always move later.

"Mandatory for all freshmen" can be taken loosely.

Be yourself! Chill out. Slack off. Find a couch, kick back, and take a nice long nap. Good things will come to you.

Opinion Editor Anders Hove can be reached in the library.