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Welcome, Class of 2004

Welcome to the Class of 2004.

As you begin your MIT experience, you will encounter a campus in the midst of transition. Now is an exciting and challenging time to be a student at MIT. Not only will your years at MIT shape you, but you will have ample opportunities to use your gifts and talents to shape the future of MIT.

Most notably, the impending storm of residence changes still looms over campus. The clock is ticking on the residence selection period that you will experience over the next week. Upon completion of the new Vassar Street undergraduate dormitory, the ability of freshmen to choose to live in a fraternity, sorority, or independent living group will cease. As these changes to the undergraduate housing structure evolve, graduate students are dealing with crises of their own -- delayed construction of graduate housing, obscene rents in Boston and Cambridge, and fear that space currently used to house graduate students will be converted to undergraduate space.

As you experience residence selection you will get you first taste of this significance of living groups at MIT, of how critical housing is to the MIT experience, and how frightening housing changes are to many students.

But the housing program is not the only institution undergoing change at MIT. The campus is in the midst of a physical facelift as well. The Stata Center is now under construction, a new athletic facility is planned, and renovations continue across campus. MIT’s building boom means you will see your share of dust and construction closures over the next four years.

The MIT administration also welcomes several new faces this year. The appointments of Larry Benedict as Dean of Student Life and Robert Redwine as Dean of Undergraduate Education brings fresh blood into MIT’s leadership. Whether these new deans serve as effective advocates for MIT’s students will soon be seen and depends in no small part on the relationships they form with a gun-shy student population.

As these changes swirl around you, do not let the opportunity to add your input pass you by. Keep a focus on the people of MIT. Stay informed on the issues and the debates, from the MIT housing system to the presidential campaign. Expand your horizons and share your opinions. Don’t allow yourself, like many students at MIT, to become buried in classes and UROPs, allowing the rest of life and humanity to pass you by. Take up your orientation challenge to “evolve with the best” and make MIT the campus you want it to be.

Once again, welcome to MIT, and we hope you enjoy your wild ride.