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Orientation features housing midway, education sessions

The "strongest class ever admitted to MIT" arrives on campus today for a revamped orientation program that includes three days devoted to academics, leadership and forging a strong sense of community.

The 602 men and 451 women who make up the class received that laudatory assessment from Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones when acceptance letters were mailed in March. The 1,050 freshmen include 41 who had perfect scores of 1,600 in the SATs (mean scores for the class were 706 verbal, 762 math), and 223 valedictorians. Forty-three percent are women and 17 percent are members of underrepre-sented minority groups.

Groups of freshmen will have upperclass students as orientation leaders, who also will serve as associate advisors to freshman seminars. Many freshmen arrived early to attend the Freshman Leadership Program.

Orientation also includes the first pre-rush informational housing midway as well as several sessions, including extensive alcohol education, designed to help incoming students make prudent social decisions.


The activities got under way last night with a free showing of "Good Will Hunting." Advanced-placement exams in physics and calculus will be given from 9am-noon today, and do not conflict with other activities.

Professor Emeritus Jay Keyser and Professor Paul Lagace will host a welcome dinner at the Johnson Athletic Center from 6-8:30pm tonight, at which the incoming students will be introduced to their orientation leaders and members of the faculty.

President Charles M. Vest will welcome the freshmen during the convocation program at Kresge Auditorium tomorrow from 10-11am. Professor Nancy H. Hopkins of the Department of Biology will also speak. The convocation will be followed by Contact MIT, an interactive presentation on academics conducted by Professor Kip Hodges from 11am-noon.

A discussion of "Scientific Research in the Next Millennium" is scheduled for 1-3:30pm tomorrow in Kresge. John Horgan, author of The End of Science, and other experts and students will debate the premise. "This is guaranteed to reinforce your decision to matriculate at MIT," notes the Hitchhiker's Guide to Orientation distributed to new students.

Tours of the athletic facilities are scheduled for 3:30-6pm tomorrow, followed by a barbecue on Kresge Oval. The evening concludes with the freshmen breaking into groups of 30 for discussions among themselves and orientation leaders that will foster diversity and a sense of community.


The 2002/MIT folder distributed to all freshmen contains a memo regarding alcohol policy from Dean for Student Life Margaret Bates, a copy of MIT's basic alcohol policies, a statement of the goals and principles underlying that policy, and a list of sanctions for possession or providing alcohol to persons under age 21. They also will receive a wallet-sized card later in the week that outlines emergency measures and support phone numbers.

"As I'm sure you're well aware, alcohol policies and procedures have been under continuing review and discussion at MIT over the pastyear," Dean Bates wrote. "These discussions and related efforts will continue this fall as well.

"I want to make sure that you can participate in this important institutional dialogue and that you are also well informed about the expectations the Institute has for your behavior."

On Friday from 5-6:30pm, about 900 freshmen -- including 200 to 300 women -- are expected to attend the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program at Kresge.

The goal of the program is to reduce men's violence against women by educating and empowering male and female students and student leaders to provide leadership on issues that historically have been considered "women's issues" -- rape, battering and sexual harassment. By stressing the bystander approach, the program is designed to reduce the defensiveness that many men often feel when discussing these issues as well as the sense of hopelessness that some women feel.

The next day, Jim Matthews, special assistant to the vice president of Keene (NH) State University for alcohol and other drug programs, will preside over a multimedia presentation entitled "Beer, Booze and Books��������������������������� A Guide to College Drinking" at 9am in Kresge. This program, sponsored by the Interfraternity Council (IFC), is mandatory for all freshmen.

Following the presentation, students will break into small groups to discuss these issues with orientation/residence leaders and an MIT professional staff member. They will also be given alcohol resource materials.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, Dr. Richard Keeling, director of health services at the University of Wisconsin and executive editor of the Journal of American College Health, will meet with housemasters, Medical Department personnel and administrators during the day. He will discuss health and student life issues with freshmen from 7-9pm.


On Friday, female students can meet representatives from the eight sororities and other coed/female living groups on campus at the Women's Convocation in Rm 10-250 from 4-4:45pm. At the same time in Kresge, alumni/ae will discuss the residential system and the housing selection process in a program entitled "Secrets of the Sages: Looking for a Place to Call Home."

The residence midway at which new students meet with representatives from the living groups is scheduled for 7:30pm on Friday in the Johnson Athletics Center.

The Killian kickoff takes place on Saturday shortly after noon with visits to the residences allowed on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday. Free rides are available for travel between residences. Students may accept bids from dormitories, fraternities, sororities and other independent living groups starting at 8am on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Parents' orientation begins on Friday, Sept. 4. President and Mrs. Vest will welcome members of the Class of 2002 and their families from 9am-noon on Saturday, Sept. 5 at the President's House. A continental breakfast will be served at Walker Memorial.


In addition to the serious business of advanced-placement tests, advisors and housing selection, orientation includes an introduction to the finer aspects of life in Boston and Cambridge.

There will be visits to cultural centers and historical sites, among them the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, Boston Common and the Public Garden.

If the free barbecues, ice cream and chocolate on campus do not sate freshmen's hunger pangs, trips to the North End, Chinatown and the Hard Rock Cafe are planned. They can also tour social landmarks including Harvard Square, Newbury Street, Jillian's and Quincy Market.

Orientation also will include an introduction to hacks, free massages and the annual egg-dropping contest from the roof of the Green Building, where students try to devise ways of protecting raw eggs from the impact.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 26, 1998.

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