Guest Column Alex M. Hochberger
I would like to applaud the effort to make MIT Homecoming a campus-wide event. School spirit is something that is seriously lacking here, and this was a good attempt to establish it. Unfortunately, the assumptions made in the planning were a little foolish and prevented a truly successful week. I have a couple of criticisms and suggestions for future years.
The name--“Domecoming.” The “Nerd Pride” mantra of MIT is appropriate at some times, but not others. I love the fact that people are comfortable being as geeky as they want without feeling ostracized, but supported. However, Homecoming is not the time or the place for “Nerd Pride.” An inclusive event that caters to fraternity and sorority members, athletes, and dorm students should be an attempt to unify the school. While some segments of the population love Nerd Pride, others are embarrassed by it. Reaching out to the entire school requires not “geeking out” the theme.
Weekend Focus and Publicity. We all know that this event was poorly publicized. However, as it becomes an annual event, publicity won’t be a problem. I expect successful Homecoming Weekends in the future.
On a more important note, canceling other events to support this one was a mistake. If you want to build an MIT community, you can’t do it one weekend out of the year. Greek Week and the Fall Festival serve as two opportunities to unite the fraternity system and the entire school, respectively.
If you want a turnout for Homecoming, make coming to MIT, IFC-wide, and MIT-wide events common, not irregular. Other events won’t lessen turnout, they will increase turnout.
Event selection. This is a college homecoming, not a high school homecoming. The Alley Rally is fine, but put less focus on free food and more on the event. If you want to hold a normal college event, avoid excessive MITisms that serve to alienate sections of the school. Anytime you mention “free food” (particularly in a quote for The Tech), the event immediately sounds childish and not fun.
A movie shown on campus is not a normal Friday night activity for college students, particularly during homecoming weekend. Cancel afternoon classes, hold rallies, and light a bonfire at night. Let loose and have fun, with events that include the entire school. The IFC decision to ban parties was a horrendous idea. High school homecoming events usually involve 17- and 18-year-olds driving intoxicated to an event and attempting to dance without falling over.
A college homecoming should be an exciting weekend of partying and celebration. Instead of banning events, the IFC should encourage open events that will be coordinated for the weekend and published in The Tech. The Greek system should contribute to the weekend by providing a social atmosphere for the entire MIT community, with each house doing its share.
Being from South Florida, I’m accustomed to the annual treks to “Gator Growl,” the University of Florida homecoming. Days of classes are canceled; the school parties for a week before watching their football team annihilate a lesser opponent. No, we’re not going to compete against a school that ranks in the top 10 for football and partying, but making homecoming a time for the MIT community to celebrate together might make us rethink the motto IHTFP.
Still, the organizers should be thanked for a great effort at uniting MIT. Bringing back Domecoming was the start -- now we just have to do it right.
Alex M. Hochberger is a member of the Class of 2001.