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This Monkey’s Going to HeavenEverything I Know About MIT I Learned From Gossip

By Ruth Miller

According to a recent article, in The New York Times, “Have you Heard? Gossip Turns out to Serve a Purpose.” Gossip has long been regarded as “blather with no useful function,” but new research shows positive and necessary reasons for gossiping.

Take the situation used in a study at the State University of New York. Respondents were asked to rate their approval or disapproval of gossiping in several situations. In one instance, a rancher complained to other ranchers that his neighbor failed to maintain a fence, allowing this neighbor’s cattle to wander and graze on others’ fields. The respondents approved of the gossip, and many would have been strongly opposed to the rancher keeping quiet.

Not quite falling under the category of “risk reduction,” there are a lot of things the Class of 2009 will be asking about over the course of the next few weeks. “What’s the deal with 3.091?” “What are the dorms like?” “What’s the deal with campus dining?”

In the interest of group betterment, the returning undergraduates are almost duty -bound to gossip to the new freshmen. As with any gossip, some people will spend their entire orientation feeding information to freshmen, some true, some not, and some just down right manipulative. For that reason, most honest people steer clear from answering questions about other people or groups and encourage the inquisitor to find out for themselves.

I did that last year, but of course, the ’08s were resilient enough to coerce more information out of me than I had intended. So this year, I’m throwing caution to the wind; this is everything I know about anything MIT.

• The word “social” — Don’t buy into this word. People that drink a lot call themselves “social.” People that build things and blow stuff up call themselves “social.” People that sit around and argue politics call themselves “social.” Guess what people that cook a lot call themselves? Don’t accept anyone’s use of “social” to mean good or bad — get them to clarify.

• Housing in general — Think about the kind of person who prioritizes “good view,” “single,” and “quiet.” Think about your possible neighbors before you write those words down.

• East Campus vs. West Campus rivalry — Too broad an argument. Parts of each side of campus follow broad stereotypes, and others don’t. Only very closed-minded people act or think in these terms.

• Baker — Traditional “social” in the state school sense of the word. Their mascot is a red Solo cup. (If you haven’t figured it out by now: You’re going to drink).

• Bexley — The most conveniently located dorm of all, but in an effort to curb an influx of lazy people, traditionally has an anti-rush. Have come to consider themselves quite exclusive.

• Burton–Conner — On West Campus, but people that list East Campus as first or second choice often list BC as the other. Mostly known for having a suite-centric design.

• East Campus — They build stuff, and go hacking, and think they’re the shit. Occasionally they are, occasionally they aren’t.

• MacGregor — Places that have a lot of singles tend to attract people that strongly want singles. Think about it.

• McCormick — All-female. Very clean. Very quiet.

• Random Hall — Generally regarded as the most intelligent dormitory. Anytime a movie references MIT, this is the sort of image they want to elicit.

• Simmons — Still a new dorm, hasn’t really had a chance to develop a persona yet; their image is as befuddled as the place in which they live.

• Frats — MIT has 26 frats, and while they all have their nuances, all but three are essentially the same as any frat at your basic state school.

• Sororities — Girls, eat as much free frat food as you can, because you’re not getting any during “Spring Recruitment.” There’s an interview process, mandatory meetings, and your hand is held the entire time to make sure your feelings don’t get hurt.

• Freshmen on Campus — By having a quarter of their income removed, frats now act like there’s a knife at their throat to recruit freshmen. The IFC, run exclusively by people with interests in politics, creates rules with the intention of restoring order, but really just pisses off a lot of people.

• The Brass Rat — a piece of metal meant to symbolize your time at MIT, but really just your first year and a half. The power struggle involved in getting on RingComm turns away a lot of people, and those that make it incur scrutiny as to whether or not they are exercising their own opinions or those of others. In general, every RingComm will find something they can’t be neutral on, and is never remembered fondly.

• 3.091/5.111/5.112 — Budgets are determined by the number of students enrolled in the courses offered by each department. So of course, Chemistry people want you to take 5.111 or 5.112, and Materials people will recommend 3.091. Little known fact — all these classes fulfill the same prerequisites. So basically, take the one that your friends are taking, because it really doesn’t matter.

• Sports — People act like they’re all really bad, but we all secretly know they’re not. Even the best teams get a sort of ambivalent respect, because everyone’s too busy to go to their games but can appreciate the time commitments they make, and that seems to count more than performance. Several teams make it really far, but the football team sucks, and that’s all that matters.

But hey, don’t believe me. Go find out for yourself.