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Vest Takes Early Lead in Annual Big Screw Contest

By Sam Hwang


The annual Institute Screw Contest, otherwise known as “The Big Screw,” has already raised more than $800 for charity as of Thursday night.

President Charles M. Vest currently leads the contest with a total of $283.98 so far, approximately $100 ahead over the second place Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 with $187.99. Professor Steven B. Leeb, who teaches Microprocessor Control Lab (6.115), is currently third with $184.22. The contest will end today at 5 p.m.

Contest honors MIT’s harshest

Alpha Phi Omega runs the Big Screw as one of their two main annual charity fundraisers. The contest is a week-long event held each spring term, during which candidates compete by having monetary donations given on their behalf at a booth in Lobby 10.

As evidenced by the participation of Vest and Clay along with the usual mix of teachers, both MIT faculty and staff may run in the contest. Most Big Screw candidates are suggested by others, usually students.

Each candidate must choose a charity to represent in the contest. The candidate who raises the most money by the end of the week receives all of the money raised by each candidate for their charity.

The trophy, a three foot, left-handed aluminum wood screw, is awarded to the winning candidate and is ceremonially dubbed the person the students feel has screwed them over the most.

Contestants aid charities

While Clay has not yet chosen his charity, current leader Vest selected the MIT Community Service Fund. Last year’s winner, Physics professor Hale Van Dorn Bradt PhD ’61 also donated his winnings to the MIT Community Service fund.

Professor Haynes Miller, currently teaching 18.03, is planning on donating the winnings to the Friends of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees pending his victory. He currently has a total of only $56.75. Of his current ranking in the contest, Miller said, “I’ve only raised $56.75. I thought I could have done better than that. I gave my class an hour exam on Wednesday.”

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Donald E. Troxel plans on donating the money should he win to the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens because he says that they are “a very needy bunch who I’d love to help out.” Troxel has a long way to go, however, as he is in the tail of the pack with $49.78.

Students vote for many reasons

APO’s booth in Lobby 10 has been crowded with students all week long. Although many students vote for professors who they feel have screwed them over the most, some students vote for professors that they like. One student Eric C. Makhni ’05 voted for Miller because “Professor Miller is a great teacher who really tries to get students to participate in class so that it makes learning math fun.”

Some students participated in the contest just for fun and donated money randomly. Lavoska Barton ’05 voted for Vest because he “wanted to participate in the Big Screw contest, but didn’t know who to vote for.”

Other students voted for candidates based on the charities that they represented. Victor W. Hsu ’04 voted for Vest because he felt that “the MIT Community Service Fund is an organization that definitely deserves more money so that they can continue doing great things for MIT and its community.”

The Big Screw is an event which is unique to MIT and has a long history. Alumni pass down stories of professors campaigning, such as one professor who tried to win by giving a lecture in French, despite the fact that he was teaching a math class.