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Buffet Back After Four Year Absence

By Eun J. Lee

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

The Graduate Student Council and the Class of 2003 will host the second ever Infinite Buffet, a $65,000 event that attempts to bring together the MIT community by filling the infinite corridor with food.

Class of 2003 president Sina Kevin Nazemi, former GSC president Soulaymane Kachani G, and Satwiksai Seshasai G were the principal organizers for the buffet, which will take place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The buffet, which is free and open to the entire public, will line the infinite corridor and lobby 13 with internationally-themed food catered by the MIT faculty club. People will be able to enter the event through buildings 7, 8 nd 13.

The event will also feature a range of student group performers, and President Charles M. Vest and Mayor Anthony D. Gallucio will make speeches at 1 p.m. A heated tent in Killian Court will allow attendees to socialize with other members of the MIT community.

Buffet “under construction”

The theme of this year’s buffet will be “MIT Under Construction.” The organizers said that this theme is based not only upon the recent building construction work on campus, but also represents a more symbolic construction which they hope the event will accomplish.

“We’re building a stronger community,” said Nazemi.

The last Infinite Buffet was held on Nov. 22, 1997, and “was designed to raise the campus community spirit after the events of that fall ... Scott Krueger and all that,” Seshasai said.

The workers serving the food will be dressed in construction workers’ coveralls, and the decorations and centerpieces on the tables will also follow this theme. The organizers have used “Infinite Buffet” construction tape to advertise across campus.

The organizers are optimistic about the turnout for the event.

“This is going to be the biggest student event ever,” said Kachani. “We’re expecting several thousand people to show up.” The attendees will include students, administrators, faculty, and alumni living in the greater Boston area.

The organizers advertised vigorously, with everything from posters to ads on A Safe Ride vans. Of the event’s $65,000 budget, $3,500 was spent on advertising alone for the four-hour event. “We felt that for an event which sought to bring together the entire community, an extensive publicity campaign was necessary,” Seshasai said.

Although the event is free of charge, donation boxes will be located at several locations at the event to benefit the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.

Student relations top priority

“One of the ideas of us coming together was to break the wall between undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, alumni, staff, and administrators,” Nazemi said.

While the Infinite Buffet is open to the entire community, some have wondered how effectively a one-day event can bring about lasting improvements to the community. The Buffet can serve as a starting point for new relationships, Seshasai said, and “it will bring together parts of the community which don’t typically interact ... How often to professors and students interact on a social level?” The organizers have sent personal invitations to local MIT alumni.

Planning may solve logistics

The organizers of this year’s event went to great lengths to avoid the problems that plagued the last buffet in 1997, including overcrowding and complaints of the long distance between stations with different foods.

The organizers worked with Assistant Safety Officer David Barber since May to draft a safety plan for the event. The plan “incorporated traffic flow considerations, fire hazards ... everything you could possibly think of.”

They solved these problems by having the event spill out into Killian Court as well as duplicate food stations with the same menu. The a capella groups at the event will perform while people are standing in line, making the experience more enjoyable.

Sponsor donate range of services

A range of campus groups and organizations have contributed to the event, including the Office of the President and the Dean for Student Life. The organizers also received funding from Weekends@MIT, a fund administered jointly by the Office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs and Office of the Chancellor and in conjunction with Dormitory Council and the Interfraternity Council.

“We had unparalleled funding from student groups and other organizations,” Kachani said.

In addition to the cash, event sponsors have donated goods and services. “A lot of research and soliciting for this event has gone to cut costs so that we could focus our funds mainly on the food,” said Seshasai.

The MIT campus police will provide security for the event, and the Campus Activities Complex has helped provide audio visual equipment and other furnishings necessary for set-up of the event.

“We’re bringing together everything that MIT has to offer into one unique event,” Nazemi said.

About 150 volunteers will help by setting up and running the event.

Planning began in April

The idea for a partnership for this event was first conceived in April by leaders of the class of 2003. After joining with the GSC, the two groups began to form plans to find resources and go ahead with the event.

“There is a huge lack of interaction on a student government level between graduates and undergraduates at MIT,” Nazemi said. “This is one step in the right direction of defragmenting student governments on campus.”

This collaboration between undergraduate and graduate student governments may help improve relations between the two groups for future collaborations. The main other project where these two organizations work together is in the annual career fair.

“We’d like for this event to happen every 4 years,” Nazemi said. He hopes that this event will help improve future joint efforts from undergraduate and graduate governments.