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Class of 2004 Takes Over MIT

Effervescent Opening Ceremony Energizes Orientation 2000

By Mike Hall


Over one thousand freshmen arrived at MIT yesterday, marking the official start of Orientation 2000.

The Class of 2004, one of the most diverse classes on record, will participate in Orientation events designed to introduce its members to MIT and the Boston area.

Primal urges dominate opening

Orientation officially began yesterday afternoon as the new class enthusiastically filled Kresge Auditorium yesterday at the opening ceremony. With a creationist-tinted “Caveman” opening theme, the four Orientation coordinators took to the stage.

The opening continued with a series of games involving members of the freshman class. In the first game, contestants went on a scavenger hunt, searching for a neon-clad Orientation leader, an authentic brass rat, and a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a booklet which MIT provided free to incoming females.

In the second clash, three teams worked for ten minutes to build a shelter using poles, netting, and arts and crafts supplies. The winning team used duct tape to attach their square-lidded model to the auditorium wall.

Sexual innuendo peppered the remainder of the ceremony. Coordinators Joseph A. Cirello ’01 and Dakus S. Gunn ’01 turned up the heat during the dinosaur riding relay race, with Cirello commenting that “even the dinosaur is excited.” Following the relay, Gunn introduced the ball-tossing competition, observing that he had “a lot of balls.”

Power of the people

The optimism expressed in the opening ceremonies reflected the upbeat mood of the freshman class. Much of that optimism comes directly from MIT’s effort to accommodate new freshman with a friendly and resourceful admissions staff.

“Every time I had a question or needed anything, everyone was helpful,” said Monique A. Johnson ’04, a Florida native considering Courses II and IV.

Julie F. Kane ’04 concurred, stating that MIT had the most helpful admissions office of her top choices, helping her to choose MIT over Yale and Georgetown.

The friendliness of the student body also helped convince many freshmen to choose MIT.

“The people made me want to come here,” said Nitzan Gadish ’04, an Israeli considering Course VI.

David R. Schannon ’04 of San Diego decided to attend MIT over the Wharton Business school at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The philosophy here is ‘us against them.’ We’re all dealing with the classes. At Wharton, it’s cutthroat. Everyone’s against each other,” Schannon said.

MIT’s location was also a deciding factor for many freshmen. Coming from Los Angeles, Karen M. Keller ’04 had one goal in mind when selecting MIT.

“I wanted to get away,” Keller said. “MIT was as far away as I could possibly get, considering there are no good schools in Maine.” Keller’s mother and father, both MIT alums, encouraged her to leave home and come to MIT. “They just gave me my airplane ticket and said ‘bye.’”

While excited to begin her MIT career, Keller is admittedly apprehensive about Orientation and the new academic challenge. “I’m completely lost and I hope to orient myself,” Keller said. “I have no expectations besides getting free food and meeting new friends.”

New experiences and old loves

In addition to the opportunity to meet new people, some freshmen are learning to perform mundane day-to-day tasks.

“I did laundry for the first time last night,” said Nathan W. Liu ’04, a Minnesota native considering Course VII. He reflected on his first time doing laundry with fondness. “It was easy,” Liu said, grinning.

Meanwhile, some freshmen have decided to abstain from certain new experiences. While most freshmen come to college looking to play the singles scene, potential Course II major Alexander L. Allen ’04 has settled on one true love. Last February, Allen proposed to Kathy M. Deitz, a high school classmate and incoming freshman at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

This past weekend, the couple moved from their Vermont home to Eastgate, an MIT housing complex for couples and families. Deitz and Allen, both age eighteen, will be one of the youngest couples ever to live in MIT family housing.

Allen was pleased with his atypical housing assignment. “Eastgate’s pretty nice,” Allen said. “There are a lot of foreign people.”

The couple’s wedding date is June 16, 2001.