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COLUMN

Let the Rush Begin

Veena Thomas

Last weekend was the best in recent memory. Not coincidentally, it was also Campus Preview Weekend. A tremendous amount of work went into planning this weekend to ensure that all the little prefroshlings would have a great time and choose to come here. CPW is a good time for all, even those who already study here.

Actually, let me clarify something. For those who didn’t notice, this past weekend was not CPW, it was rush. How else can you explain the proliferation of fraternity letters on Friday, and the abundance of frat parties over the weekend? Even the dorms joined in. The excuse was that potential freshmen should be aware of their living options. Although the students hadn’t decided to matriculate yet, why did I feel like it was R/O? Because I had that much fun.

The day the prefrosh arrived, I was struck by both the beautiful weather and change in the atmosphere. Walking back from class, I encountered one dorm and one frat playing dance music. Far from a nuisance, it enlivened the campus. Although it was Thursday, I practically danced back to my room, feeling lucky to be a carefree college student.

My prefrosh also provided welcome change. Her high school innocence suddenly threw my weary college mentality into harsh silhouette. When I casually mentioned something about how a friend might sleep in through her first class my prefrosh looked shocked. “How can she do that?”

“Well, it’s easy,” I replied, “you just sleep through your first class and go to your second class.”

“But don’t you need to go to your first class?” asked the innocent high school student. Hmm. Yes, you need to go to your first class. There was no way I could justify this one. What had happened? Why did the thought of someone skipping her first class no longer bother me? I must have entered MIT much as she did, wide-eyed and innocent. In the words of Soul Asylum, “How on earth did I get so jaded?”

We made quite a pair, her, the fresh-faced high school student, and me, the hardened, cynical one. I tried to keep her entertained, and it didn’t take much. She loved just being at college and doing everything. All the prefrosh received an incredible list of weekend activities. There were two plays, the MIT Ballroom Dance Team competition, more parties than I could count. And Alan Lightman, who wrote one of my absolute favorite books, Einstein’s Dreams, was going to give a talk. I felt lucky to be a student here. Why can’t I have this much fun every weekend?

After looking at the list of activities, we decided to have dinner in Boston and then party. Coming home from dinner, we decided that it was too cold to attend a roofdeck party. But when we passed by a frat, once again I was seduced by the booming dance beat. We agreed to change into warmer clothes and then go to the party. I changed in my room as my prefrosh and another prefrosh friend waited in the lounge. But when I went to get them, I found them fast asleep. It was 12:30. After watching them, my giggles woke them up. Claiming she was not tired at all, my prefrosh came with me to the party.

It should have been your typical roofdeck frat party, but something about it awed me. Perhaps it was because I could see the dome on one side and the Boston skyline on the other. Or maybe it was because everyone was being social and meeting new people. Something was bringing people together, resulting in an amazing party. As I looked at the skyline, suddenly I was a prefrosh again, awed by the thought that I could be a college student in Boston.

The reality of being that student hit hard the next day when I realized I had three problem sets due Monday. My prefrosh incredulously asked me if I was doing homework. I was. “But it’s a Saturday!” Somehow a weekend of parties didn’t prepare her for the fact that we actually do work here. I tried to explain this to her. “But can’t you just do your homework on Sunday?” Three problem sets in one day? I don’t think so. I gave her the excuse that I was going on a dorm cruise. I didn’t want to burst her bubble. Let her remain an untroubled high school student while she still can.

I can’t go back to the life of a high school student, but prefrosh weekend gave me a glimpse into my past and a chance to regress, if only for a little while. But if that is what it takes to relive that feeling, let the rush begin.