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Institute Screw Contest Begins

By Marissa Vogt

The annual Institute screw contest, sponsored by the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, began Wednesday in the Student Center. Commonly referred to as the “Big Screw,” the award is given to the faculty or staff member who students feel has screwed them over most.

Members of the MIT community can cast one-cent votes throughout the week. Each nominee selects a charity, and all of the money collected is donated to the winner’s charity. Additionally, the winner’s name is engraved on a “left-handed, four-foot aluminum wood screw” and he or she is given the screw for safekeeping during the year, said APO Service Vice President Vladimir S. Tarasov ’08.

Professor Stephen C. Graves, nominated for his role in the MIT Committee for Community, was leading the contest with $163.00 at the close of voting yesterday. Graves wrote in an e-mail that he has “absolutely no idea” why he was nominated. “I’m a mild-mannered nice guy. Possibly I bored someone to death in class, and this is their retaliation,” he wrote.

Graves praised the contest for providing “an opportunity for the students to show their love and/or blow off some steam.”

Professor Haynes R. Miller wrote in an e-mail that he was unsure of why he was nominated. “Someone suggested to me that it might have to do with the fact that I am lecturing in 18.03 this Spring, but, since that course is perfect in every way, it can’t be that,” he wrote.

Miller said that he hopes to win the contest because his office has a good space for displaying the screw.

Graves echoed the sentiment, writing that “I covet the big screw and have the perfect place to display it in my office.”

Tarasov said that APO is still accepting nominations and trying to get approval to enter the nominees in the contest. He said that APO sends each nominee a “very diplomatic letter” explaining the fundraiser, though some faculty members choose to decline the nomination.

Other nominees include Course VI Administrator Anne M. Hunter, who could not be reached for comment.

Tarasov said that Hunter was nominated because she “represents Course VI,” and that students voting for her will likely do so because they feel they have been screwed over by the department, not necessarily by Hunter. However, he said that there is probably a “small percentage of students who are angry because she fills their inbox with lots of mail.”

Voting in the contest will continue weekdays through Tuesday, April 11 on the first floor of the Student Center.