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Prefrosh Experience MIT Life

By Eun J. Lee

Features Editor

According to the admissions office, 912 out of the 1,735 total students admitted into the Class of 2007 have registered to attend this year’s Campus Preview Weekend. Groups all over campus have been making preparations for weeks, even months, to showcase all that MIT has to offer in such a short amount of time.

“We are offering prefrosh only a vicarious MIT experience, since a true industrial-strength MIT experience can only come when a student is enrolled full-time,” said Marilee Jones, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions. “The real benefit, I think, is that CPW gives [MIT] students the chance to take a moment to put their school lives in perspective as they share their experiences with prefrosh.”

Prefrosh were in high demand this year, with a greater number of students signed up to host prefrosh than the total number of prefrosh that registered to attend CPW.

“I think it’s really great to see that so many people are excited about CPW and willing to share their experiences at MIT by hosting prefrosh,” said Jennifer T. Chang ’04, whose prefrosh arrived on Thursday.

‘Life at MIT’ in four days

This weekend will provide prospective students with a firehose experience of their own. More activities are scheduled this year than in the past, including several large events at the newly-built Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center facilities, where this year’s prefrosh will have full access during their stay.

Changes in this year’s CPW program from previous years include the first-ever Activities Fair jointly organized by the Admissions office and the Association of Student Activities. The Interfraternity Council is also planning larger-scale events than it has hosted in the past. Traditional CPW events such as tours, lectures, a capella concerts, barbeques, parties, outdoor exercise, and improv comedy will also continue to wow both incoming freshmen and fully matriculated students alike.

While some event organizers hope to lure prospective freshmen with loud music and live goldfish, the MIT Public Service Center plans to keep it simple with freshly baked cookies and good conversation. The PSC will hold its first CPW Open House today and Saturday in their new office along the Infinite Corridor for anyone interested in learning more about service.

“Community service is a great way to become acquainted to the community at MIT and a great way to learn about Cambridge,” said Sally Susnowitz, Director of the PSC. “Prefrosh should think about their time, interests, and ambitions and come in and talk to someone here. We have some wonderful student staffers who can tell you what it’s like to study at MIT and how to best fit service into your life.”

In most undergraduate courses, however, the Friday of CPW will be a day just like any other.

“I don’t have anything special planned,” said Professor of Mathematics Arthur P. Mattuck. “[Friday] we’ll be doing the Dirac delta function, which is infinity at one point and zero everywhere else, so for the sake of MIT’s good name I hope that the other lectures the prefrosh attend are a little more anchored in reality.”

Activities Fair

This is the first year that the Association of Student Activities has collaborated with the Admissions office to organize an activities fair during CPW. The fair will parallel the Activities Midway that is part of the orientation program for incoming freshmen in the fall. However, it will be slightly smaller than the midway, with 80 out of the almost 300 ASA recognized student groups confirmed to set up booths on Saturday in Johnson Athletic Center. Several MIT Administrative offices will also be at the Activities Fair, including the Campus Police.

“MIT boasts a huge number of student activities ... so this event is a great opportunity to showcase all we have to offer to prefrosh,” said ASA President Jennifer S. Yoon ’03. “The second audience that we’re catering to is the entire MIT community who might have missed the Activities Midway in the fall or are just looking for new activities to become involved with.”

Although a gym full of fliers and eager student group leaders might be daunting for anyone at first, Yoon says the trick is stay open-minded. “We have groups that represent just about every kind of activity. You might come in thinking you’ll join one group, but then end up loving another activity you might not have considered, so definitely just go in there and keep an open mind.”

Publicizing the Greek system

Roughly 50 percent of prefrosh are being housed in fraternity houses this weekend. The Interfraternity Council hopes that through their experiences, prospective freshmen will see the advantages to MIT’s Greek system, which includes 27 fraternities and 5 sororities that make up close to a third of the undergraduate student population.

This year’s IFC sponsored events are focused on making this year’s CPW informative as well as fun for prospective freshmen. “This year we’re definitely stepping it up a notch,” said IFC President Lawrence W. Colagiovanni ’04. “We’re really going to try to give houses more access to the prefrosh so they don’t have to plan a lot of separate events ... we’re also really trying to push for selling the MIT fraternity system as a whole and showing what sets it apart from Greek life at other schools.”

The IFC and Panhellenic Council will set up a booth in Lobby 10 today to provide information geared towards prefrosh and their parents answering questions about the Greek system at MIT and selling candy to raise money for the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. The IFC will also host a carnival in Kresge Oval tonight from 4 to 7 p.m. with games, food, and music.

For this year’s prefrosh, Colagiovanni stresses the importance of exploring and getting a broad sense of all that MIT has to offer, both socially and academically. “This weekend crams a lot of stuff into a short amount of time, but it shows how diverse we are [as a school] ... CPW is what sold me on MIT,” said Colagiovanni, who ended up pledging the fraternity at which he stayed during CPW.

MIT weather machine broken

According to The Tech’s meteorologist, the weather forecast for this weekend looks less promising than the Campus Preview Weekends in the past, with highs in the upper 40’s and predicted showers.

“The prefrosh finally get to see what Boston’s really like for 90 percent of the school year. Apparently, MIT’s weather-changing machine is broken,” said Adrienne M. Irmer ’04, who will not host any prefrosh this year, but plans to take part in the many CPW festivities this weekend.

Despite the grim weather forecast for the weekend, CPW organizers are optimistic that the weekend will be a success and that MIT’s “weather-changing machine” will be fixed before the end of the weekend.

“I'm appealing to my friends, the weather spirits, on this one. Usually they are very helpful, but now that they are on grades second semester, they might be too busy to listen,” Jones joked.

It’s all about balance

In the past, some prospective freshmen have found that they got the most out of organized events while others preferred more informal gatherings and conversations. In order to make the most out of the experience of visiting MIT or any other college, Jones offers some advice. “Try to determine what our culture and values are as a community and see if there is a match. Spend time with faculty, students and staff. Go to at least one class and at least one party,” Jones said. “Experience a little of everything. It's all about balance.”

Colagiovanni reminds the prospective freshmen this weekend is not limited to the activities listed on the schedule of events. “I’d definitely encourage prefrosh to go into Boston and explore not only what MIT has to offer, but what going to school in Boston has to offer,” he said. “That could also be a huge selling point for someone who’s never been in a city.”

Like many of their predecessors, this year’s prefrosh may come to appreciate the real meaning behind CPW.

“Eat as much free food as possible because it’s not going to be free when you get here,” Irmer said.

A detailed schedule of the events planned for CPW can be found online at the Web site