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Let the Games Begin

Spring Weekend Event Lets Faculty, Students Interact

By Katie Allen

What if there were an opportunity for faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and their families to interact in an informal and fun setting? Sound like yet another promise from a UA presidential candidate? During Spring Weekend, the the third ever Johnson Games will try to make it a reality.

The games were first held in April 1988 as part of the community celebration surrounding the dedication of Johnson Athletic Center. After the success of that event, the games were brought back for President Charles M. Vest’s inauguration in 1991. Both of these events were attended by over 2,000 MIT community members.

According to organizer Ted Johnson, associate director for programs and director for community services, “There was always the hope that events of this kind would happen at least once in every student's academic life.”

However, eight years passed without a recurrence of the games. Many MIT community members, remembering the last Johnson Games, had suggested that MIT run the games again, and after the success of the Millennium Ball, the offices of the President, Provost, and Chancellor agreed to fund the Games. Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’75 said, “Last time, everyone thought that it was fabulous. We hope to make a regular event of it, because it is such a great community-building event.”

The games will take place Saturday, April 29, 2000. Although the actual events are secret, to keep the Games fair, they will include a wide range of activities designed for all ages. Johnson said that “the games include a broad spectrum of events. People who are not particularly athletic can very easily participate. We are encouraging people to bring their families.”

Vice President Kathryn Willmore, added that “there really is something for everyone. For example, older faculty and staff members may not be the team members chosen for a contest that involves scaling a wall, but they would be excellent at something like MIT trivia, which has been an event in the past.” Past events include various relay races, team sack-races, “Howard Sez,” a game played like “Simon Says”, MIT trivia, and many others.

Jonathan Sheffi ’03, who participated in 1991 with his father, who is a Course I professor, recalls a game where “we had to run a relay race up to a table with orange halves on it. Each person would run to the table, squeeze two orange halves into a glass, and run back. The first team to fill the cup won.”

Other examples of events can be found in the video clip of the 1991 Games, on the Johnson Games website at <>. The organizers expect more than 2000 participants at this year's games, which will be followed by a community barbeque and awards ceremony.

At this year’s games the new MIT beaver mascot will debut. Solar C. Olugebefola G, one of the two winners of a design contest to re-design the mascot said that the new beaver is a general update of the currently ten-year-old costume.

The mascot (usually named .T.I.M.) will now sport a grey t-shirt with a cardinal ‘T,’ Olugebefelo said. For the comfort of the wearer, the suit will feature a “serous ass cooling system.”

Teams for the Games should be composed of 20-40 people, 40 percent students and 30 percent faculty and staff. They should be approximately half male, half female, and at least one third of the active participants should be from a core organization, such as a dorm, living group, academic department, activity group, etc. Each team should also have an original name. For example, the winner of the 1991 Johnson Games, the “Stratton Stompers,” was a group based around the CAC. A team for this year’s games formed from the offices of the President, Vice-President, Chancellor and Provost are dubbed the “Vest Pocket Protectors.”

Registration for the Johnson Games began Wednesday, March 29, and will continue until Wednesday, April 5 at 11:00 p.m. on the games’ website.