MIT's 1,023 freshmen arrive on campus today for an orientation program that includes a shopping spree, visits to museums and Fenway Park, lots of food and a wide variety of activities designed to prepare them for real life, including sessions on intimate relationships and alcohol.
The 592 men and 431 women in the class of 2004 come from 47 states and 54 foreign countries and grew up in homes among which 65 languages are spoken. Forty-eight percent of them were valedictorians while the rest were in the top 5 percent of their high school classes. Seventy percent graduated from public high schools and one in five come from households in which neither parent is a college graduate.
"MIT's future reputation will be assured with this class," said Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones. "They are simply stellar students who come to us ready to find ways not only to change the world, but to improve it."
The theme for Orientation 2000 is "New Beginnings."
During the week, incoming freshmen will be introduced to MIT living groups, academic programs and extracurricular opportunities. A shopping tour of Quincy Market, Downtown Crossing and the Copley and Prudential malls is scheduled. Visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science and the Gardner Museum also are planned. Trips to the Comedy Connection, Jillian's, Fenway Park and Chinatown are also on the agenda.
Orientation kicks off with an opening ceremony and barbecue on Kresge Oval at 5pm today, followed by an 8pm performance by Frank Santos, billed as the R-Rated Hypnotist, in Kresge Auditorium. The Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison will be shown in Kresge at 10pm.
President Charles M. Vest will welcome the freshmen to MIT at Convocation on Thursday at 10:30am in Kresge. Associate Professor Nancy Kanwisher of brain and cognitive sciences will deliver the keynote address. On Saturday, Sept. 2, from 9am-noon, President Vest will greet members of the class and their families at the President's Reception, during which a continental breakfast will be served at Walker Memorial, while a receiving line forms at the President's House.
Later on Thursday, Kresge Oval will be the site of the Health and Welfare fair, entitled "MIT -- It Does the Body Good." The event, scheduled from 1-5pm, features campus experts on health, athletics, finance and housing as well as free food, massage therapists and health-related demonstrations. The Institute Welcome Dinner will be served in the Johnson Athletic Center on Thursday at 5:30pm.
The Women's Chocolate and Fruit Fest takes place on Monday from 4-4:45pm in the Bush Room. Women faculty, staff and students will discuss their own experiences and answer questions about life at MIT. Desserts, including chocolate decadence, will be served.
The annual egg drop from the roof of the Green Building is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 30 from 1:30-3pm. Prizes are awarded to students who design packaging that protects raw eggs during their 295-foot drop.
Mandatory sessions on sex ("Sex Matters" taught by Jay Friedman, a certified sex educator) and alcohol ("Beer, Booze and Books" by Jim Matthews, special assistant to the vice president for alcohol and other drug programs at Keene State College in New Hampshire) are scheduled for Kresge.
Dr. Friedman will conduct his session on Saturday from 9-10:30am. Mr. Matthews will present his multi-media program on Thursday, Aug. 31, from 8-9:30pm.
MIT's alcohol policy, a statement of the goals and principles underlying that policy and a summary of the sanctions for violating that policy will be distributed with the orientation packets.
On Saturday, Sept. 2 from 9pm-midnight the Class of 2004 party featuring snacks, soft drinks and live music will take place in La Sala de Puerto Rico and Lobdell Court in the Stratton Student Center. The following day, freshmen will take their swim tests.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 23, 2000.