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Welcome, Class of 2000

Welcome to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Welcome to the Class of 2000, families, and friends. For the next several days, you will be welcomed by many groups including dormitories, fraternities or sororities, independent living groups, athletic associations, and dozens of student activities. They will welcome your ambition, your talents, your sociability, and, of course, your intellects. You undoubtedly paid your dues to make it this far, so take a moment to savor the fruit of your labors. You will be welcomed, and you are entitled to feel accordingly.

MIToffers a system of residence and orientation that is unlike any other school of its kind. Today you have just unzipped your suitcase. In two weeks' time, you will be fully settled into permanent housing. You are guaranteed housing. You are not, however, guaranteed happiness.

Residence and Orientation Week and independent living group rush is a perennial time of heightened emotion. As mature young adults, you must avoid getting caught up in the glitz, and take advantage of the opportunities that are best for you. You will have to make many decisions in the next four years, but those that you make in these first weeks may be the most trying.

Informed decisions are difficult during R/O because of the deceptions inherent in the system. Dormitories hope to take in people who will best fit the local community, and contribute to the character and lifestyle of the residence. ILGs are perhaps even more zealous in this respect. In addition, a "badmouthing rule" prevents members of many fraternities and sororities from speaking their minds. MIT itself has a conflict of interest when it comes to information: It depends on ILGs, particularly fraternities, to bear the housing load. It can be difficult to get the straight story from anyone.

Beyond the newly painted walls, steamed lobsters, and the trips and activities that will be at your disposal this week, keep in mind the goals of your hosts, and your own goals. Wherever you visit and whomever you are with, don't lose sight of your own best interests.

Acting in your own interest means making decisions. For instance, you will be told that many events, such as Project Move Off Your Assumptions, are "mandatory." You will be told that Thursday Night Dinners is not a rush event. You will have to determine the validity of these statements yourself. Only you are qualified to say what you should or should not do.

The most important advice we can give is to relax. Take the time to keep yourself in control, and avoid being pressured. Registration Day is not until September 3. There is no reason to start getting stressed now.