There are an awful lot of student organizations available at MIT, but for a school as unusual as ours, they start to seem a little boilerplate. I suppose I’m not really an authority on student clubs here, since the only thing I’m a card-carrying member of is Blockbuster, but even so, I can’t help but feel like we could be weirder and more distinctive — no offense meant to the Tiddlywinks team.
After all, prospective Engineers seem to be becoming less and less conscious of the strength of our educational program and more and more floored by the strength of our culture. We are perceived as so bizarre that we get credit for originality that isn’t ours. The other day, I walked past a pair of prospective students in Lobby 7 who seemed convinced that “The Vagina Monologues” was an MIT-born show. (It’s not.)
This begs the question: why aren’t we doing more to distinguish ourselves from other top-tier schools (on purpose)? I mean, besides skewing the walls of all our new architecture and putting cop cars and cows atop the old architecture? I’m well-aware that no school in the galaxy could hold a candle up to us — but for some reason or another, we haven’t been able to convince everyone else.
I once spoke with a woman who had a choice between MIT and another school. MIT sent her a Valentine’s Day card; the other school didn’t. Three guesses which school she decided to attend. Bearing that in mind, in the same spirit of caring and compassion for the individual, I think we could afford a few more clubs and student groups of the sort that will illustrate both how much our students’ needs matter to us as well as how unique we are. As a matter of fact, I already have a few possible ideas for new clubs here.
In keeping with MIT’s sterling reputation as a haven for geeks and nerds, I wouldn’t say no to a Nobel Laureate Trading Card Game* Club. After all, considering how many of our alumni have won Nobel prizes, one might argue we deserve such a club more than anyone else. (Harvard may have more Nobel laureates than we do, but are they as dedicated to trading card games as we are? I don’t think so.)
Or what about a Nose “Scratchers” Anonymous organization to help people with a tragic and slightly off-putting addiction? Say all you want about “It was a scratch, not a pick!” — we know what was going on. Just admit you have a problem, and you get access to the secret handshake. Which, as you might imagine, requires participants to don latex gloves prior to execution.
Perhaps most important would be the Video Game Injuries Clinic. Aside from the usual thumb splints and carpal-tunnel medication, the clinic’s services will probably begin to infringe on the borders of the field of traditional sports medicine, icing down hands and feet, and stocking plenty of knee and elbow braces. I love Nintendo as much as the next person, but the advent of the Wii has generated the frightening prospect of crippling more geeks than it creates. Don’t even get me started on those among Dance Dance Revolution players burdened with an overabundance of confidence in their own coordination.
That was just a taste of the possibilities for proving the life of those already here, reaching out to those who have not yet been assimilated, and ensuring that the Institute’s place as one of the most culturally distinct institutions on the planet. We may not be as high-class as some other colleges — but that’s what makes us special.
* The Nobel Laureate Trading Card Game is not an actual card game, so be aware that any attempt to find it will end in considerable laughter at your expense. Invent it, however, and you get a cookie.