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Leaving A Marking

Akshay Patil

People who complain that there is not enough communication within the student body here at MIT have obviously never read the message board hanging on the door of my room. There we find the spirit of idea exchange alive and well, even flourishing if I may be so bold. On its white surface periodically appear messages of all sorts of natures, promoting a flow of information between me, my roommate, and those who decide to grace our board with their creative input.

Yes, there’s nothing more gratifying than to come back from a long day of classes to find that someone has lovingly scribbled “UZ A HO” on your white board. Sometimes in a fit of cultural enrichment, others will write “PUTO! Where are you?!” Yes, there is much to be learned from the message board.

People also use the board as a way to express their artistic side. Creative drawings frequently appear on our board, occasionally graced with a variety of color, signifying that the artist was unwilling to remain constrained by the blue marker under our board and took it upon him/herself to demonstrate a more diversified range of color in their imaginative depiction. And in the spirit of community, others will often add to the drawing, modifying it in such a way to use the pre-existing image as a foundation for their creative message. Strangely enough, this often involves enlarging certain aspects of human anatomy, but who am I to question the validity of art?

Instead of drawings, however, others turn to song lyrics in order to convey to me and my roommate how they are feeling at the time. The eighth letter of the alphabet raised to the power of “izzo” was, for a time, a popular expression to appear on our board. What the mathematical significance of this expression is still eludes me, since no one seems particularly keen on defining their variables. Of course, other meaningful lyrics such as Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t you know you’ve got to shock the monkey” also grace our board from time to time.

The night before a major problem set is due, the message board often becomes a place of true learning, with traditional Greek letters and strange math symbols being laboriously marked in blue ink. Sometimes, interesting derivations or circuits last a few days, menacing the occasional passerby with the firm assertion that yes, we do go to MIT. This is of course until my roommate (pronounced “Sloanie”) erases it all.

On rare occasions, friends even use our message board to leave factual messages. These range from polite messages reminding us that we owe someone money to aggravated messages reminding us we owe someone money. Every so often the flow of communication is reversed, and we leave messages for other people on our board, such as “Don’t come in, I’m naked,” or “SHHHH!!! Akshay is asleep.” Thus our board acts as a portal of information between us and the outside world. Friends even try to keep us up to date with late breaking news such as “You suck,” “I’m a monkey!” or “Your pen is dead” from time to time.

And let us not forget that aesthetically pleasing moment that comes from a freshly erased white board. A vast open canvas ready to come alive. With a felt-tipped marker (and if it’s not dry-erase, heaven help you when we find you) in your hand you have the freedom to initiate. Who knows what will happen when you mark something on the board? Will people ignore it? Will they respond to it? Will they add to it? The possibilities are finite.

Ah yes, there’s nothing like a message board on your door to promote communication within the student body. An open forum to anonymously share one’s feelings and emotions with those who regularly read the board. A free channel of communication available for the artistic expression of the MIT community. A medium for the exchange of ideas be they philosophical or pornographic. Just whatever you do, don’t steal our pen.