First-year Students Enjoy MIT Orientation

Hockfield Greets Freshmen at Convocation Sunday; Graduate Orientation Underway

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Freshmen groove at the Dance Party Orientation event Saturday evening in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Student Center.
David Templeton—The Tech

With the fall term around the corner, first-year undergraduate and graduate students populated the campus this past weekend to kick-off this year’s event-filled orientation programs.

The undergraduate orientation theme this year is “Tech Royale,” which plays off the most recent James Bond movie “Casino Royale,” according to Daniel W. Chapman, staff associate for the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming.

This year, 1,069 freshmen and nearly 1,200 parents are expected to attend Orientation, Chapman said.

Orientation for the Class of 2011 began yesterday with Convocation in Killian Court. At Convocation, President Susan Hockfield formally welcomed new students and their parents to the Institute.

“We value the hand that reaches out … that makes the world a better place,” Hockfield said. She warned the incoming class about some of the trials they will face in the next four years, specifically addressing the “seemingly endless problem sets.”

Bonnie Figgatt, parent of Caroline M. Figgatt ’11, said that she was glad to hear Hockfield talk about MIT’s mission to improve the world. “It’s very exciting to have a daughter coming to such a remarkable place,” Figgatt said.

Many of the freshmen also took Hockfield’s message to heart. “That’s the biggest thing we need to be focusing on … taking the education and giving back,” Steven Arcangeli ’11 said.

During Convocation, the Orientation coordinators presented Hockfield with the Convocation Book, which contains the names of the new class.

According to Julie B. Norman, director of UAAP, 17 Freshman Pre-Orientation Programs were held one week before Orientation, including a new departmental energy and environmental FPOP. These FPOPs gave freshmen a chance to explore specific areas of study or non-academic interests before Orientation began. Norman said that 468 students participated in FPOPs this year.

Several aspects of Orientation changed this year, Chapma said. In the spirit of the “Tech Royale” theme, UAAP replaced last year’s Freshman Boat Cruise with a “Tech Royale Casino Night.” The event will be held at the Longwharf Marriott Hotel Friday, and professors have been invited to mingle with students at the card tables, according to the Orientation guide.

“The City of Cambridge does not allow any fake tables or play money,” Chapman said. “However, the Marriott is a fancier venue, and we’ve created a ballroom atmosphere.” According to Chapman, there will be several card tables, blackjack tables, other games, and a movie that will be part of the whole “Tech Royale” theme.

For the first time, MIT will bring in a diversity speaker for Orientation. Instead of showing a student-produced video on diversity, Eddie Moore, Jr., a professional speaker, will talk about ethnic, racial, and sexual diversity in society.

The freshmen also received a five-subject notebook for free during check-in this year, according to Chapman. The UAAP worked with a company called Shadow Notebooks to include eight pages of MIT-related information in the front of the notebooks.

The coordinators for this year’s Orientation are Edward G. Fagin ’08, Kaitlyn G. McCartney ’09, Joshua L. Sklarsky ’09, Ted A. Fernandez ’09, and Emily J. Onufer ’10.

Grad students learn about MIT

In the midst of the undergraduate orientation frenzy, the graduate orientation, mainly hosted by the Graduate Student Council, also kicked off yesterday with a welcome barbecue at Ashdown House. The graduate welcome address will occur at Kresge Auditorium on Thursday.

Unlike the undergraduate orientation, which is more focused on activities, athletics, and social life, the graduate orientation focuses on career options, resources around campus, and cultural assimilation of the international students.

According to GSC President Leeland B. Ekstrom G, this year’s graduate orientation will focus more on international students, which constitute nearly 30 percent of the MIT graduate population.

“One of the GSC events that wasn’t done last year is the International Festival,” said Sabrina L. Spencer G, a graduate orientation coordinator.

Graduate student orientation will end on Sept. 22 with the Mid-Autumn Boston Harbor Cruise.

Nick Semenkovich contributed to the reporting of this article.