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Residence/Orientation Week Begins for MIT Class of 2001

Douglas E. Heimburger -- The Tech
Kathryn A. Willmore, Executive Assistant to the President, who helped decide to exclude the Extropians from the official freshman mailing.

By Zareena Hussain
Associate News Editor

Today marks the beginning of Residence and Orientation Week for the Class of 2001. For the next nine days, freshman will explore the many living groups and activities they can choose to take part in and which may become an important part of their MITexperience.

"We hope for them to be able to see the Institute for what it's worth," said Wesley T. Chan '00, the R/O Committee logistics manager, "people come in with certain expectations, we hope to reinforce their reality or give them a new reality."

Reshma Patil '00, R/O publicity and personnel manager, said that she hoped the Class of 2001 would take the opportunity to have some fun and also get the chance meet other freshmen and upperclassmen. "As a whole, freshman will get a lot out of R/O this year," Patil said.

Freshmen demographics constant

The total number of freshman this year is 1,077, relatively steady compared with last year, said Associate Director of Admissions for Information Services and Research Elizabeth S. Johnson.

There are minor changes in demographics "but nothing vastly different from last year's class," Johnson said.

For example, the percentage of women in the entering freshmen class decreased to 38 percent from last year's figure of 42 percent. This was because a lower percentage of women were admitted, Johnson said.

Seventeen percent of the Class of 2001 are members of underrepresented minority groups, a slight drop from last year's figure of 18 percent.

Mississippi is the lone unrepresented state in the freshman class, Johnson said.

Convocation promises enjoyment

While many events will be offered to acclimate students to the Institute, from hearing the sage words of upperclassmen to hanging out in a local Boston night club, R/O will really begin with the President's Welcome Convocation in Kresge Auditorium.

President Charles M. Vest will introduce students to the Institute. Nobel Laureate and Professor of Physics Samuel C. C. Ting will follow, welcoming students to campus. From there freshman will participate in Contact MIT, a presentation given by Dean of Students Kip V. Hodges PhD '82 to give students a flavor of the academic offerings at MIT.

While the details of Contact MIT were not specified. Chan said that it would include a multimedia presentation and be "interactive and fun."

Project MOYA to challenge skills

After the convocation, freshman will head to Kresge Oval where they will meet for Project Move Off Your Assumptions. Students separate into their MOYA groups and participate in ice-breakers and problem-solving activities.

One addition to project MOYA this year will be sticks & stones,' a contest which challenges students to build the tallest free-standing structure that can support a tennis ball, Patil said. The structure is to be built using chopsticks.

Following MOYA, freshman will sit down for dinner with their future classmates at the freshman barbeque. The event is intended to "provide a little downtime after MOYA," Patil said. Students will stick with their MOYAgroups during the barbeque, she said. It will be the first time during R/O that all the freshman will get to eat and interact in one place.

In the City replaces dinners

After the barbeque freshmen will be offered the chance to venture into Boston and Cambridge during the event called Thursday Night in the City, which was formerly known as Thursday Night Dinners.

In the City gives freshmen the opportunity to meet with upperclassmen while exploring Boston. "It includes the same concept as last year with a bigger choice of what to do," Patil said. Students are not restricted to dining at area restaurants. They can do everything from exploring Boston to going bowling, Patil said.

Last year, 300-400 freshman did not attend Thursday Night Dinners, Patil said. "A lot of freshman who didn't go to Thursday Night Dinners didn't go because they might have hesitated to go into the city with a bunch of strangers," Patil said. The Freshman Barbeque is intended to address this problem, feeding freshman who might be apprehensive about participating as well as opening up a bigger slew of things people can do, Patil said.

Concluding the list of scheduled activities for the first day of R/O will be MITUnplugged, where freshmen can cool off in Kresge Oval while watching Clueless.

On Friday, students will prepare for the beginning of rush by attending Killian Kick-Off.

"It should be spectacular and something the freshman really enjoy," Patil said. "This is the first time it is a student-run activity," Patil said. "It is more geared for incoming students," she added.

Many more activities offered

For those who might not participate in rush, there will be many non-rush activities to occupy a restless freshman's time. There are "tons of events and tours," Patil said. "We would hope more, but between 10 and 15 [students per tour] would be a great number," Patil said.

In addition, a new activity, Stand Up, a program that addresses issues of diversity, has been included in R/O Week. "It is intended to basically open the minds of the freshman," Patil said, "to see how they think and how other people think."