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Class of 2003 Arrives on Campus; Orientation Begins for Freshmen

By Jennifer Chung

The remaining members of this year’s incoming freshman class arrive at MIT today for one of the last traditional Orientation Weeks, as the Institute implements policies created in the aftermath of the alcohol-related death of Scott S. Krueger ’01 two years ago.

During the next two weeks, freshmen will be given the opportunity to learn about MIT’s plethora of residential options, student activities, athletics programs, resources, and academics. Since many upperclassmen have not yet returned, Orientation also provides the chance for freshmen to easily meet other members of their class and slowly become acclimated to the Institute’s culture.

With 1,056 members, there are slightly more students in the class of 2003 than in the preceding class. According to Associate Director of Admissions for Information Services and Research Elizabeth S. Johnson, there was “virtually no summer melt” for the first time in at least 14 years, meaning that fewer than usual number of the students who originally committed to MIT last spring ended up changing their minds.

Most years, a summer melt usually consists of the loss of “usually 30 to 35 students,” said Johnson.

Freshmen pleased with MIT

Overall, freshmen seem to be pleased with their first impressions of the campus and Orientation.

“I like [MIT]; I really like it,” said Lars Tronnint ’03, an international student from Norway who has been here for two days. “People are really nice,” and international student orientation has been “enjoyable so far.” Tronnint expressed praise for the amount of information he had been provided and the amount of time he had been given to meet new people.

But the campus “seems kind of empty so far,” said Amanda Leckman ’03. She said that her experience during last April’s Campus Preview Weekend definitely helped her choose MIT.

Approximately 73 percent of the students who visited MIT for CPW ended up choosing to attend MIT.

“It seems nice so far,” said Chad Leedekerken ’03. “They made it pretty easy. It’s not as shocking as people said it would be.”

Other students have begun exploring off-campus. “I went into Boston and really liked the T,” said Rachel Parke-Houben ’03, who arrived yesterday.

Meanwhile, Orientation seems to be running smoothly. “Things are going really well,” and “everyone’s really positive,” said Damien A. Brosnan ’01, one of four Orientation coordinators.

As of Monday, 800 freshmen had still not arrived, according to Brosnan. However, all freshmen should be on campus by 5:00 pm today, in time for the opening ceremonies in Kresge Auditorium.

Demographics remain constant

This year, 453 female students are expected to number among the 1,056 total members of the incoming freshman class, or about 43 percent. The percentage is comparable to previous years. Last year’s incoming class had 450 female students out of 1,050 total members.

Seventy-one percent of this year’s freshmen come from public high schools, and eight percent come from abroad, up from six percent last year. Of the 666 students who came from schools that ranked its students, about 87 percent were in the top five percent of their classes, and 33 percent were first in their classes.

According to Johnson, there are no students from South Dakota, Mississippi, or Wyoming. Among the states, California boasts the largest amount of representation, being the home of 14 percent of the class of 2003. Among regions, the Middle Atlantic -- comprising of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania -- has the most representation.

Underrepresented minorities make up about 18 percent of the class, with Asian-Americans making up an additional 26 percent. Those numbers do not include the percentage of students who chose not to disclose their ethnicity, a group that has risen to 12 percent of incoming students over the past few years.