MIT organizes virtual CP★ for Class of 2024

Students and staff create online alternatives to adMIT hosting and Activities Midway

CP★ — the virtualized version of CPW for admitted students — launched April 17 and will run until April 30. 

The program is a combined effort between MIT Admissions and campus academic offices, residences, and student groups. 

Assistant Director of Admissions Trinidad Carney wrote in an email to The Tech that “dozens” of official MIT organizations, including the Division of Student Life, Dormitory Council (Dormcon), the Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups Office, and the Office of the First Year (OFY), are major partners for the virtual event. Historically, the COOP, Dining, and the MIT Campus Activities Complex have been major collaborators for supporting admits and their parents during CPW.

“We work very hard to highlight all sides of the MIT community and pretty much never turn down groups who are interested in getting involved,” Carney wrote. 

Carney wrote that over 60 academic events and 200 student events have been scheduled for the Class of 2024. 

An event schedule can be found on the CP★ website, which also contains a directory of support services and a section detailing projects and opportunities on campus. Additionally, the Admissions Office will host spontaneous hangouts and a social media takeover by current students, Carney wrote. Admissions created a website for current students to stay updated on CP★ as well. 

New additions to CP★ include the MITPal pen pal program and a CP★ Discord server hosted by the Student Information Processing Board (SIPB). 

The MITPal system, an alternative to hosting created by the Admissions team, matches admitted students to current students based on common interests. Admits connect with their MITPal online and can ask them any questions they have about MIT.

The Discord, which allows admitted students to ask MIT staff and students questions about the Institute, currently has over 1,000 members. The server includes channels for extracurriculars, living groups, and academics. 

The server also has designated streamers to share a variety of content including crocheting and video games, featuring a tour of the MIT campus on Minecraft, which was created by the BusyBeavers team and hosted by the SIPB.

SIPB Chair William Moses G wrote in an email to The Tech that SIPB has also helped transition students on campus to digital life. The group offers CP★ activities such as a Zoom Cluedump and a project fair for admitted students. 

The Activities Midway, which traditionally takes place on Sunday of CPW, was virtualized. This year’s Virtual Midway took place Sunday, April 19 through a website created by members of TechX and the Association of Student Activities (ASA).

ASA President Rebecca Black G wrote in an email to The Tech that she coordinated meetings between ASA, Admissions, and Student Organizations, Leadership, and Engagement (SOLE) to plan the Virtual Midway. She then reached out to the TechX DevOps team to develop the website. 

Black wrote that over 180 student groups signed up for the Midway, more than in previous years. Black also wrote that there have been conversations about making the CP★ website “a more permanent fixture” in future CPW and Orientation events for students who are unable to attend in person.

The website simulates walking through the booths during Midway through color-coded circles that admits can click on to learn more about new and random groups. Visitors can also search for specific groups or filter groups by categories such as activism, performing arts, and technology. 

Student groups could customize their page by submitting a description, contact emails, website links, and other media. Admits can indicate interest in groups by “starring” them and opting to provide an email for future contact.

Performing groups were displayed through a looping playlist of videos on the “Performances” tab on the Midway site to substitute for in-person performances, Black wrote. 

MIT Ridonkulous, an urban dance team that often performs at Midway and opening and closing ceremonies for CPW, is also hosting a virtual dance workshop. Sean Ko G wrote in an email to The Tech that Donk was inspired by the broader dance community who have hosted live online classes over Instagram, Youtube, and Zoom. 

MIT Borderline, responsible for live murals across campus, launched a collaborative art project called Tunnel66 where admits and current students can add artwork to a personalized room in a connected “tunnel” of rooms. Visitors can also click on the room to learn about the artist behind it. 

“Tunnel66 strives to bring the magic of the tunnels — a living, breathing work of art where students can express themselves and share with the community — to prefrosh and current students alike,” Borderline President Gloria Lin ’21 wrote in an email to The Tech

MIT Battlecode recently unveiled Battlehack, a version of their annual Battlecode competition that can be accessed remotely and is open to everyone. According to logistics chair Teresa Gao ’23, the project was led by Battlecode chairs and developed by the Tech Devs, who created a Python game engine in time for CP★. 

MIT Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has aimed to virtualize the physical events they typically offer to admitted students. Sophia Chen ’23 wrote in an email to The Tech that EMS will offer admitted students a virtual ambulance walkthrough and tour.

Other student groups are also offering events to welcome a diverse group of admitted students. 

The Quest Scholars Network has a virtual hangout to answer questions on supporting first-generation low-income students, President Eleane Lema ’21 wrote in an email to The Tech

The International Students Association created a video featuring international students answering questions about life at MIT, as well as a pen pal program to connect admitted students to current international students, Amanda Vanegas ’22 and Daniel Léon Jiménez ’21 wrote in an email to The Tech. 

Awele Uwagwu ‘21, a member of the African Students Association, wrote in an email to The Tech that the club will host two “Q&A with the current African Students” sessions on Zoom. The group has also continued to host weekly African Learning Circle events and coordinate voting for the Ebony Affair Awards, an event typically hosted during the weekend of Ebony Affair, wrote Uwagwu.

Residence halls have also transitioned their events online for CP★. 

Maseeh Hall President Zachary Villaverde ’21 worked with Dormcon and Maseeh CPW chairs Shelly Ben-David ’23 and Savannah Lawrence ’23 to virtualize traditional events such as Tower Party, in which each floor hosts an event at the same time for adMITs to explore. 

Baker House CPW Chairs Emily Wang ’23 and Aden Rothmeyer ’23 wrote in an email to The Tech that the dorm plans to continue traditions such as piano drop by encouraging students to drop origami pianos out their windows.

A number of unique challenges come with virtualizing CPW. 

For instance, the recently re-organized International Students Association had to start operations as an online-only group, Vanegas and Jiménez wrote. For dance groups such as Ridonkulous, limited physical space and communication presented logistical challenges, Ko wrote.   

For many student leaders and staff, the quick turn-around was the most difficult part of organizing CP★. MIT Battlecode Tech Devs created the game engine in two weeks to be ready for the prefrosh, Gao wrote. Similarly, Lin wrote that the Tunnel66 site had to be written in “a couple days.”

“We don’t have the luxury of four days to know how to do something and how to get a response. We have six hours,” Villaverde said in an interview with The Tech, referring to planning Maseeh CP★ events. 

Black wrote that transitioning online also presented personal challenges in balancing her academic work and mental health with her responsibilities as ASA President. 

However, Black wrote that the process of organizing CP★ “has definitely highlighted how supportive and motivated our community is — all of the students on the ASA and TechX and staff in SOLE and Admissions that I’ve worked with on these initiatives have been so excited and passionate” about making CP★ “come together.”

Stu Schmill ‘86, dean of admissions, wrote in an email to The Tech that the goal of CP★ remains the same as that of CPW: “to help students make the right college choice.” 

Schmill wrote that the Admissions staff, in conjunction with teams including OFY, Student Financial Services, and the Office of Minority Education, plans to continue connecting with and supporting the Class of 2024 after CP★.

Editor’s note: Gloria Lin is an illustrator for The Tech.