Although Rush and Recruitment are continuing around campus, orientation and Residence Exploration (REX) events are officially over. How has it been?
For the past week, freshmen have heard from professors, administrators, orientation leaders, and upperclassmen about life at MIT. As with Campus Preview Weekend, free food and introductions abounded all over campus. Incoming freshmen were given The Hitchhiker’s Guide to MIT Orientation 2016 at check-in, describing several events awaiting the new students. Meanwhile, each residence prepared its own events to promote its unique culture and lure freshmen participating in the First-Year Residence Exchange. From President Reif’s Convocation to the freshman photo, orientation was a busy week for freshmen.
Typical of first days at a new school, freshmen began to bond and find friends. While orientation groups provided a base for friends, informal interviews with a number of freshmen revealed disappointment at being chained to their groups. .
The variety of orientation events had mixed reviews — The Tech Theatre, Sex Signals, and Diversity sessions were considered successes, mostly. Margaret G. Guo ’16, commented that the Diversity session “helped bridge the gaps between people and allowed you to get closer to people you normally wouldn’t.”
The meaning of sexual consent presented in the Tech Theatre and Sex Signals skits were met with laughs, though some freshmen found the material redundant. Since the incoming 2016s were required to complete the Student Success Sexual Assault Prevention Program over the summer before arriving on campus, many had seen the information before.
Lakshmipriya Subbaraj ’16, said that the Sex Signals session was “a funnier version of the online video, but with the exact same material.”
Likewise, the Core Blitz session was almost identical to the videos posted on the Class of 2016 website. Many students mentioned that they left Core Blitz before the end of the presentations or didn’t go at all, favoring REX events (or sleep) instead. Rather than just a PowerPoint presentation from each professor, a professor panel where students could ask any lingering questions might have made the event more interactive and helpful to students, considering that most had already watched the online videos before arriving on campus.
In contrast, the Academic Expo and Activities Midway were huge successes, and the Johnson Ice Rink was packed full of freshmen asking questions about departments, programs, or student organizations they found interesting as they received free swag from every booth.
One new event for this year was called “By Students, for Students: Conquering MIT,” where six current upperclassmen told their stories, concentrating on some common issues students face as they transition into MIT, such as illness, stress, and loneliness, among others. After listening to the speakers, freshmen met with their orientation leaders and had discussions with a representative from MIT Medical. Many freshmen in the orange orientation group found this session to be helpful in pointing out the different student resources available, such as Student Support Services (S3) and MIT Medical. A number of suggestions were made to improve the event for next year, such as allowing listeners to ask about the speakers’ experiences.
As for the REX events, the highlights seemed to be Baker House and East Side parties. Baker projected its music to the rest of campus, and the East Campus courtyard was filled with hand-built rides for the frosh. Both had their respective parties on Monday, Aug. 27. While several freshmen attended both, the overwhelming response favored East Campus. Baker’s Skyline Party was described afterwards as boring since not many people were there. Everyone seemed to be at the East Side party instead. However, some attendees thought Baker’s party was still a highlight of REX. According to the Skyline Party’s description, it is the “largest party of REX,” since “over 500 freshmen attended last year.” Perhaps the lackluster response from Baker’s party resulted from its being scheduled on the same day and at the same time as the East Side party.
All in all, freshmen are enjoying their last few days before classes after a week of orientation and REX events, getting textbooks, finding their way around campus, and meeting new people!