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Student Keynote Launches Rush

By David D. Hsu
News editor

Catherine D. Conley '96, Dormitory Council President Dhaya Lakshminarayanan '96, and Chair of the Women's Conference Stephanie A. Sparvero '96 addressed the Class of 1999 for Killian Kick-Off yesterday.

Conley, the first student ever to deliver the keynote address, reminded the freshmen that their high-school years are relatively unimportant at MIT. "Whether you were destined to attend or you squeaked in by your amazing charm and wit, you're just in," she said. [See transcript, page 8.]

Conley stressed to the freshmen and upperclassmen gathered to launch rush the importance of broadening their views. She asked the freshmen to stand and look first at the Great Dome then at the city of Boston. "This is Cambridge," she said. "Welcome home."

Just as MIThas now become an integral part of freshmen's lives, the Class of 1999 has now become a part of the Institute, Conley said. "Each of you has been accepted into this greatness."

Freshman to create own legend

Conley at one point asked the freshmen to jump up and down as a way of emphasizing their newfound independence and self-responsibility. "You're not in high school anymore. It's no longer a matter of just following directions blindly," she said after the freshmen stopped jumping. "Like you told mom and dad: Let me go out and live my own life,' right?"

Conley also appealed to the audience to "make an impression on MIT." Leaving that mark takes several steps, she said.

As Conley described each step, she placed large cut-out puzzle pieces on a large white board set up behind her. When the puzzle was competed, it formed a picture of a key. "The key is yours," she said. "The key is complete, ready to unlock all your dreams."

While completing the key during their four years in college, freshmen should grasp three tenets. "No regrets. No excuses. Don't waste time," Conley said. "You're ready, so shatter the myths, go out, and start creating your own legend," she said.

Last minute rush advice given

Lakshminarayanan encouraged the freshmen not only to explore the fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups but to look at dormitories as well. "Rush with your head, heart, and stomach," she said.

Speaking to a 42 percent female freshman class, Sparvero suggested that women explore several living options. She also noted that the three speakers were female.

Interfraternity Council Rush Chair Alison L. Walters '96 acknowledged the hectic nature of rush. "You will be confused, but you'll get through it," she said.

Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Travis R. Merritt also made an appearance at the Kick-Off. He returned, in rags, tired out from having lost his staged marathon challenge to the Class of 1999 on Thursday at the Project Move OffYour Assumptions finale.

"I heard a rumor that you play by different rules," Merritt said. "I heard a rumor that you used teamwork."

Although unlike previous years, no hack was played on this year's festivities, the kick-off was marked by an unusual scene. Dressed in a blue vinyl dress and yellow wig, Joaquin S. Terrones '97 stood off to the side of the event and imitated the speakers with mocking gestures.

Residence and Orientation Week Committee Chair Sanjay K. Chugh '97, who emceed the event, was pleased with the kick-off. "Any negativity from [Thursday night] wasn't evident here," he said. He referred to the rowdiness that accompanied the beginning of this year's Thursday Night Dinners ["Overzealous Crowd Mars Frosh Dinners," Aug. 25].

Chugh also was enthusiastic about Conley's keynote address. The speech was both funny and well delivered, he said. "I hope the student speaker keeps going. I think it's a great innovation," he said.

Following the speeches, Walters signaled the official start of rush.