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Activities Show There's More to MIT than R/O Suggests

Column by Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Residence and Orientation Week is already halfway over. Freshmen have, for the most part, either received a bid from a fraternity, sorority, or independent living group (and maybe pledged) or entered the dormitory lottery.

Yet there's a lot more left to R/O, and one major portion of it occurs tonight:the Activities Midway. It's the first chance for freshmen to meet activities, which are just becoming active again for the fall semester.

In many ways, it's a shame that the Activities Midway occurs after rush. For one thing, many freshmen are involved with pledging an FSILG and aren't encouraged or don't have time to visit the midway. Many other freshmen are simply exhausted from the stresses of rush and a lack of sleep (and many upperclassmen, including me, are as well).

It's problematic that many freshmen don't even bother to go to the Activities Midway, let alone consider the wide variety of activities that exist here at the Institute. Why?Because these activities are one of the few chances for members of different living groups to work together and to break through the stigmas attached to the living groups.

When I came to campus last year, I had already decided that I wasn't just going to work on classes. I was also going to have a job and perhaps join a few activities.

Still, I didn't realize the extent to which MITstudents segment themselves. Indeed, since R/O ended, I've only met a few people outside of Random Hall, where I live, except through the two activities that I've involved myself in - The Tech andthe Lecture Series Committee.

Between these two groups, I've met members of almost every dormitory and a few FSILGs. I now know - and am friends with - people who live not just at Random but also at New House, MacGregor House, and East Campus, as well as at Zeta Beta Tau and Epsilon Theta, to name a few. The best thing about activities are the opportunities that one has to meet people from other residences. Another good thing is that there are usually very few requirements involved in joining. Most people who join The Tech don't have any journalism experience, and those interested in projecting movies at LSC haven't usually projected movies before.

Unfortunately, though, I haven't had the chance to meet and work with members from many FSILGs. Indeed, it seems that members of these groups don't get as involved in campus activities, or at least the activities that I'm involved in. Why does this happen?My guess is that the reasons are twofold. First, most of the FSILGs are located across the river in Boston, a significant walk away from campus.

Especially in the winter evenings, it becomes a major annoyance to wait a half-hour for Saferide to get to campus, and then a half-hour again at the end to get home. That's an hour waiting for transportation, compared to a less than five minute walk to the Student Center for virtually all dormitory residents.

This matter is obviously something that deters many FSILGresidents from joining activities. But it's obviously not the only one, considering that many, if not most, FSILGmembers are involved in other things like sports that occur on campus after hours. Perhaps it's the fact that the entire living group isn't participating in the activity that may be a deterrent as well.

Peer pressure is always a strong force - in activities and in living groups. Especially in FSILGs, where community is valued among freshmen and where pledge programs can take a large percentage of a freshman's time, it can be difficult to make the commitment to join an activity.

Hopefully, though, all freshmen will at least take the opportunity to see the opportunities at the Activities Midway. From publications to musical and theater groups, from service organizations to political groups, there is a wide variety of activities that will be represented tonight.

Activities at MIT provide a welcome respite from the rigors and stresses of classes. By participating in two activities, I've had lots of free food, gone to conferences, and operated expensive equipment. But most importantly, I've met some great and interesting people I wouldn't have otherwise even seen.

Freshmen, come to the midway tonight. See that there are more opportunities for meeting people than just living groups.